Submitted by The NewHITES Canada Community-Based Research (CBR) Team
Update, August 2018
As a team we are pleased to provide you an update on our work in the area of HIV stigma, migration and settlement, and the health of newcomers in Canada. Last September 2017, we re-named ourselves after our face to face meeting in Calgary to the ‘Newcomers, HIV, Immigration, Treatment, Engagement and Stigma’ Canada team, or simply the NewHITES Canada team. Since 2002, many of us have worked directly together to understand HIV in immigrant communities in Alberta. We are a community-based research team based out of the University of Calgary, University of Alberta, and we are from British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Nova Scotia, all working together to better understand the experiences of immigrants living with HIV in Canada. We are people representing AIDS Service Organizations, advocacy groups, immigrant settlement services, and people living with or affected by HIV. We also work to find ways reduce health and social inequities experienced by immigrants living with HIV in Canada; and we work with the community to identify research priorities. We belong to a CBR Advisory Committee that guides and advises our research initiatives. We are a diverse group of people and each member brings their strengths and expertise to our collective work.
Preliminary Results: National Study
In 2015, we began a pilot study called “An Exploratory Study Assessing and Understanding HIV-Related Stigma Among African Immigrants Living With HIV in Alberta, Who Have Had HIV-Testing During the Immigration Medical Examination (IME) Process”. Last year, we provided you with some preliminary results from the Alberta pilot study. One of our findings was that there is potential for disruption in the HIV cascade of care for people living with HIV, who are in the process of migrating to and settling in Canada. Currently, we are preparing a document that we will share widely with our stakeholders in the community, universities, and policy decision makers. Stay tuned for this report.
Based on the findings from the Alberta Pilot Study, we were able to successfully apply for funding to build on this work to collect data across Canada. The national study, “African and Caribbean Immigrants Living with HIV in Canada – Internalized and Experienced stigma during the process of Migration and Settlement” enabled us to further explore the findings from the Alberta study.
Here is an update on our national study:
• We reached 123 people across Canada who completed a survey assessing internalized HIV stigma.
• Of the 123 people we reached, 34 people met with a researcher to share their experiences of mandatory HIV testing through the Canadian Immigration Medical Examination (IME).
• We ended data collection in February 2018. We are currently in the data analysis phase of our study.
Preliminary findings include:
• High internalized stigma among respondents, particularly in the domains of disclosure and self-acceptance.
• People with 9 to 10 years of education have higher disclosure concerns, compared to people with 14+ years of education.
• We found inconsistencies in the way people experienced mandatory HIV screening during the immigration medical exam, in the areas of: informed consent, pre-HIV test counselling, post-HIV test counselling, and referral to health care services or follow up care in the context of migration and settlement in Canada.
• Potential for people to have disruption in the HIV care cascade during migration to and settlement in Canada.
Data analysis will wrap up by September 2018 at which time we will be able to communicate key findings to stakeholders. We also hope to hold a community forum in 2019 to bring stakeholders to share findings and to carry on a conversation about what we can do with the study findings to influence change in positive ways.
We thank the many organizations across Canada who supported this project in many wonderful ways. It was wonderful to work with many partners across Canada who acted as bridges between our team and the wider community. In order to further protect the privacy and confidentiality of participants, we cannot name organizations individually. However, we thank all organizations across Canada who worked with us over the last few years. We also thank all the people who contributed to this study and for their courage to share their experiences related to living with HIV, and migrating and settling in Canada. Thank you!
Association for the Social Sciences and Humanities in HIV/AIDS Conference 2018
In July 2018, our team was able to present findings from our national study at the Association for the Social Sciences and Humanities in HIV (ASSHH) in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Añiela dela Cruz presented on behalf of the NewHITES team and the work was well received by a very diverse and international audience. We received feedback that this was very important work in the context of international migration and settlement and to ensure that people living with HIV receive socially just HIV care across global borders. The conference took place alongside AIDS 2018 where Añiela took back many lessons about the need to continue our collective work in ensuring care and support for the most vulnerable people living with HIV in Canada and overseas.
Upcoming CBR Work
We hope to identify areas of further research from the national study once we have completed data analysis. In these early stages of analysis, we see the need to address what is happening during the actual HIV testing process during the IME, specifically, how people are being linked to continuing care once people arrive in Canada. We plan to apply for further Community Based Research funding in Fall 2018. We also look forward to sharing our results within this year.
Remembering Robert Bardston
In June 2018, we learned that our colleague, Robert Bardston passed away. Robert has touched many people’s lives through his work, his music, and his advocacy for health and social equities for people living with HIV. As a team, we reflect on and celebrate our work together. We will always remember Robert and how he influenced so much of our collective work. Rest peacefully, Robert.
Main Project Contacts:
Añiela dela Cruz