Where are we now? The Impact of the IPV Protocol Screening Survey

Intimate partner violence (IPV) refers specifically to abuse within an intimate relationship, the immediate and long-term effects of which can have devastating impacts.

Recent studies are showing that people living with HIV experience a high burden of IPV, and although it has also been shown to be a significant risk factor in acquiring HIV, few studies have focused on how past or current experiences with IPV affect individual’s engagement to HIV care after their diagnosis.

The team at the Southern Alberta HIV Clinic in Calgary (SAC) believe in the importance of asking all individuals living with HIV a series of standardized questions, via the IPV Protocol Screening Survey, that address their experiences with IPV. The data collected from the last several years has allowed for a broader understanding of the prevalence of IPV in different and more diverse populations than previously reported, and has also led to the expansion of the definition of ‘communities impacted by IPV’ to include populations beyond those usually considered ‘vulnerable’.

The IPV Protocol Screening Survey is a low cost, high reward intervention that can positively impact individuals living with HIV and the effects of IPV and is accepted by both patients and providers because it gives space to acknowledge the impact of people’s experience with IPV and enhances HIV care outcomes while expressing empathy and understanding.

This project is ongoing and you can read more about their findings in the following articles:

Miller P, Siemieniuk RAC, Woodman K, Krentz HB, Gill MJ  Interpersonal violence and its impact on persons living with HIV: a social work response. Journal of HIV/AIDS & Social Services 2015; 14:308-318.

Rassi SE, Krentz HB, Siemieniuk RAC, Gill MJ Implementing an IPV screening protocol in HIV Care. AIDS Patient Care and STDs  2015; 29(3):1-9

Siemieniuk, RAC, Krentz HB, Gill MJ 2013 Intimate Partner Violence and HIV: A Review. Curr HIV/AIDS Reports 10:380-389. DOI 10.1007/s11904-013-0173-9

Siemieniuk, RAC, Krentz HB, Miller P, Woodman K, Gill MJ 2013 The clinical implications of high rates of intimate partner violence against HIV-positive women JAIDS 64(1):32-38

Siemieniuk, RAC, Miller P, Woodman K, Ko K, Krentz HB, Gill MJ 2012 Prevalence, clinical associations, and impact of intimate partner violence among HIV-infected gay and bisexual Men: a population based study. HIV Medicine   DOI:10.111/hiv 12005 (2012)

Siemieniuk RAC, Krentz HB, Gish JA, Gill MJ 2010. Domestic Violence Screening: Prevalence and Outcomes in a Canadian HIV Population. AIDS Patient Care and STDs 24(12):763-770.

 Questions or concerns about this project? Contact: hartmut.krentz@ahs.ca



Calgary Men’s Wellness Initiative Survey

The Calgary Men’s Wellness Initiative is a community-based research project that investigates the health and wellness needs of the MSM population in Calgary. They have recently completed a survey and interviews that asked

  1. What are the health and wellness needs of gay, bisexual, queer and other men who have sex with men, including trans men?
  2. What gaps and barriers exist in the health sector for GBQM?

The results of this project are having a huge impact! There have been a number of educational outreach initiatives to inform service providers and community members. Findings have been shared in a community forum in Calgary, at a provincial meeting of HIV service providers, and at a one-day skills building conference for medical students and health care providers.  Additionally, The Calgary Sexual Health Centre has used the findings to inform an HIV/STI testing clinic twice a month. It has even sparked conversation about potentially developing an LGBTQ-specific health clinic in Calgary.

The data collected will also be used to guide a larger province-wide project that was recently funded by CIHR that aims to engage Alberta based researchers, decision makers, front line workers, and community-based organizations in identifying a provincial research agenda for HIV prevention in Alberta.

A summary report and other relevant publications are in the works and will be shared as soon as they’re available!


Interpersonal violence and its impact on persons living with HIV: A social work response

The team at the Southern Alberta Clinic in Calgary has recently published an article entitled Interpersonal Violence and Its Impact on Persons Living with HIV: A Social Work Response. The article examines the significant burden of interpersonal violence among those living with HIV, as well as the key role that social workers play in service delivery around prevention, intervention, and education.

Follow this link to read the article in full.


Where are we now? The Western Canada HIV Supported Housing Project

The Western Canada HIV Supported Housing: Outcome Tools Development Project (led by Dr. Cathy Worthington, University of Victoria and Floyd Visser, The SHARP Foundation) recognized a need for common outcome measures and outcome evaluation to support program delivery and sustain funding for HIV supported housing services, especially those services for people living with HIV/AIDS with complex needs. Housing is a key structural factor in HIV transmission and in determining the health of HIV; this study will create the foundation for outcome studies in participating HIV Supported Housing services.

Four agencies have been involved in the project: The SHARP Foundation (Calgary, AB), McLaren Housing Society (Vancouver, BC), Dr. Peter AIDS Foundation (Vancouver, BC), and Sanctum Housing (Saskatoon, SK). In March 2015, the project brought together stakeholders from the four HIV Supported Housing agencies, as well as individuals from public health, the homeless-serving sector, government, and academia at a two-day workshop. The project team discussed their needs for outcome measurements and established a plan to develop program-specific logic models to help inform the outcome measurement tool development process.

Over the summer, interviews will be conducted with service users and their family members at each of the four agencies to ensure that their perspectives on required outcome measures are included. The project team will meet in Fall 2015 to discuss their progress to date and to draft a common outcome measures tool. A database will be created and staff will be trained so that outcome measures can be collected and used for subsequent research.

This project will be instrumental in measuring the impact of HIV Supported Housing services on their clients and community and will help to leverage funding for these integral programs.

(Written by Kaylee Ramage)


Where are we now? The impact of Intimate Partner Violence on HIV/AIDS disease care

Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is a category of domestic abuse that refers specifically to abuse within an intimate relationship. It is a global health problem affecting millions of people every day. The relationship between HIV and IPV is complex not only because people affected by IPV more vulnerable to acquiring HIV, but the presence of IPV will impact individuals’ ability to access and maintain HIV care that may lead to poorer health outcomes. The presence of HIV infection may also increase the risk of subsequent IPV within a relationship.

The Southern Alberta Clinic in Calgary began researching IPV on individuals living with HIV in 2009 to determine the prevalence of IPV within their clinic population and how it impacts health outcomes. This involved implementing a universal screening survey that asked patients:

• if they were currently experiencing IPV,
• had experienced IPV in a past adult relationship,
• or had experienced abuse as a child.

Sociodemographic and clinical characteristics were compared between patients that reported IPV and those that did not. Comparisons of access and adherence to HIV care were also made between the two groups.

Over the past five years, almost 95% of the patients have been surveyed. Individuals currently experiencing IPV were immediately extracted from their situations; other patients who had previously dealt with IPV were referred to specialized caregivers with expertise in IPV. Last summer over 150 interviews were conducted to examine the acceptability of IPV screening in an HIV clinic setting. From these interviews a series of recommendations were made to help implement the screening survey in other HIV care centers. They hope to expand the program across the country to help improve the health of individuals living with HIV and IPV by encouraging other clinics to use the screening protocol on a routing basis.



On March 11, 2015 the REACH Alberta Working Group (RAWG) met at Mount Royal University (MRU) in Calgary. The group, created in November 2014, hopes to link HIV research efforts in Alberta to the CIHR Centre for REACH and other community-based research (CBR) initiatives across Canada. Members present at the MRU meeting participated in a facilitated mapping exercise of current HIV CBR initiatives in order to discuss current initiatives as well as identify areas that could benefit from increased collaboration.

The successful mapping exercise brought forth many issues that were subsequently categorized into three main areas where focused work is recommended:

1. Partnership: The lack of partnerships between CBR stakeholders has led to missed opportunities to share resources, information and engage in more collaborative action. This may benefit from a point of contact that would coordinate initiatives, enhance communication, and share information to all relevant stakeholders.

2. Capacity Building: The lack of capacity among community organizations to engage effectively in research is likely due to a combination of time constraints and heavy workloads. It was suggested that there is a need for more Alberta- focused research in order to support program planning and funding applications.

3. GIPA Principles (the incorporation of): There is a pressing need within Alberta to engage people living with HIV in more meaningful ways in research. This can be made possible with funding to provide skills training for peer research associates and academics.

It was a successful meeting overall, and we look forward to hearing more from RAWG!