Where are we now? Service Provider Perspectives on Needed Preparedness to Address HAND

In 2016, a REACH-funded community-based research project explored the perspectives and work experiences of providers in Ontario AIDS service organizations (ASOs) on addressing HIV-Associated Neurocognitive Disorders (HAND) in their work. This investigation was conducted by researchers from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in partnership with OHTN and a Community Advisory Board (CAB) comprised of people living with HIV (PLWH) and providers who support the mental health of HIV-positive clients.

Thirty-three providers from ASOs in the Greater Toronto Area and across Southwestern Ontario participated in the project’s confidential, semi-structured, one-on-one interviews. Based on the information the participants shared in the interviews, it was apparent that there is still more work that needs to be done to increase awareness on and knowledge about HAND among providers in HIV and mental health services, and PLWH.

This project had a number of positive impacts. Aside from underlining the need to widely share reliable information about HAND to those living with and affected by HIV, and the providers who support them in the community, the project drew attention to the presence of institutional and systemic barriers that prevent providers from delivering more competent services related to HAND. These barriers include limited access to primary care and mental health services with adequate expertise and experience working with PLWH; burnout and high turnover rate of providers in HIV services; lack of cultural competence in HIV and mental health services; and stigma associated with HIV and mental health issues.

The project highlighted some strategies participants used to support PLWH, neurocognitive impairment, and consequent mental health concerns that providers in the community could emulate, adopt, and advocate for in their work. These strategies include learning more and staying informed about HAND using reliable sources (e.g., HEADS UP brochure, and CATIE’s Practical Guide to a Health Body for People Living with HIV; providing practical supports and opportunities to learn more about HAND; facilitating referrals for neuropsychological assessments and counselling; and creating support groups and programs that allow clients with neurocognitive impairment to share with each other experiences and options on how to deal with day-to-day challenges. Lastly, the project also provided opportunities for PLWH to have greater and meaningful involvement in research about services that affect their health and wellbeing. A community report, executive summary, and research article on the findings and knowledge derived from the project will be published and shared as part of the project’s Knowledge Transfer and Exchange efforts.

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ACB Knowledge Transfer and Exchange Forum

The African and Caribbean Council on HIV/AIDS in Ontario and Women’s Health in Women’s Hands Community Health Centre, in partnership with Africans in Partnership Against AIDS, the Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention and Centre Francophone de Toronto, convened a Knowledge Translation and Exchange (KTE) Forum on March 17 – 18, 2017 in Toronto, Ontario. The purpose of the forum was to engage African, Caribbean and Black (ACB) people living with HIV on research issues related to emotional aid, employment, health outcomes, HIV over the long term, disclosure approaches and healthier- living strategies.

Community activists/educators Lena Soje and Chris Leonard engaged participants in breathing exercises, mindfulness and emotional first aid to support individuals in difficult life-situations. Lena and Chris also offered psychological support to participants who were trigged by emotional stories. Lori Chambers of McMaster’s School of Social work emphasised employment as a significant determinant of health, and her research findings on employment among ACB women was disseminated through poems. Beth Rachlis, an epidemiologist presented an overview of the Ontario HIV Treatment Network and findings from the Ontario Cohort Study. She focused on main health outcomes of ACB participants in the OCS. When appropriate, Dr. Rachlis compared ACB to non-ACB participants. Eno Akan-Essien of AIDS Committee of Ottawa hosted a panel of people living with HIV who were asked and responded to questions on the impact of HIV on their social life, and strategies utilized to maintain active health and community engagement.

Participants showed enthusiasm and interest in engaging with researchers on various issues. Participants also expressed need for meaningful engagement from conceptualization to knowledge dissemination, and utilization of mixed methods data collection approaches. Overall, they wanted to know research will contribute to improving individual social conditions and access to determinants of health.

The forum was attended by over 100 participants from Ontario, with a record number of youth, LGBTQI and Francophone participants. Thanks to Centre for REACH 2.0 for providing additional funding to facilitate attendance of more than 20 people.

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Project Coordinator/Evaluator for HIV Stigma Index Project

The OHTN is looking for a highly motivated individual to support the implementation of The People Living with HIV Stigma Index in Canada. We aim to:

  1. better understand the social determinants of HIV stigma,
  2. map out HIV stigma across lifespans, contexts, structures and systems, and
  3. mobilize local and national actionable solution(s) to support people living with HIV.

The Project Coordinator will be responsible for developing a priority program with the following objectives:

  • Reduce internalized stigma and build stronger self-worth by delivering a contact-based intervention to people living with HIV, to enable individuals to navigate the health care system with more confidence
  • Increase awareness of stigmatizing behaviours, and support behaviour change, by delivering varied stigma-reduction educational interventions to health care providers across Canada – improving the quality of health services experienced by people living with HIV
  • Increase community-based organizations’ (CBO) knowledge and capacity to address HIV-related stigma and implement evidence-informed, contact-based programmatic solutions
  • Mobilize knowledge transfer and exchange to share the experiences of people living with HIV, health care providers, and CBO representatives to sustain improved interactions in health care settings – and quality of care

You can see the full job description here.

The deadline for this position is May 5, 2017. 

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Peer Research Associate – Moving Beyond Piloting HIV POCT Project

**New Deadline

The Centre for REACH 2.0 (REACH 2.0) is seeking a highly motivated enthusiastic individual to fill a part-time, contract position (end date is February 2018, with possibility of extension) of “Peer Research Associate”. For the purposes of this study, the term ‘peer’ is defined as a person living with HIV/AIDS.

The successful applicant will be involved in the following community-based research study, funded by CIHR and supported by REACH 2.0.

Moving Beyond Piloting: A Social Ecological Exploration of Barriers and Facilitators to Scaling up HIV Point-of-Care Testing (HIV POCT) in Canada

The goal of this study is to locate and map both information related to and the number of HIV POCT pilot studies that have taken place since 2005, and determine which of the pilot HIV POCT programs were scaled up to a sustainable program, and if not what specific barriers or issues prevented it.

The research team is comprised of a national, multi-disciplinary partnerships between REACH 2.0, Dalhousie University, Nine Circles Community Health Centre, and other representatives of communities, and researchers from across the country.

Please include a cover letter which includes reasons for your interest in this position.

You can read the full job posting here.

The deadline for this application is Friday, May 5th, 2017 5:00pm EST.

 

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Supervised Injection Services Feasibility Study

“It’s encouraging to see people who inject drugs and a diverse range of stakeholders supporting the need for supervised injection services.” – Dr. Thomas Kerr

Last spring, the Ontario HIV Treatment Network, partnered with the Regional HIV/AIDS Connection and the Thunder Bay Drug Strategy to assess the feasibility of supervised injection services (SIS) in London and Thunder Bay. In February, 2017, the study results were shared with the community. High levels of willingness to use SIS were found among people who inject drugs in both London (86%) and Thunder Bay (69%). Support for SIS was also found among community members from diverse stakeholder groups in both locations.

Dr Thomas Kerr, Co-Director of the Urban Health Research Initiative at the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, and the study’s Principal Investigator knows that these sites are sometimes controversial, but notes that they are part of a broader strategy that addresses drug-related harm.

Findings from this study suggest that SIS should be implemented in London and Thunder Bay, and that the services should be integrated within centres that provide “wrap-around” supports to people who use drugs.

Additional details about the study and the full report for London and Thunder Bay can be found read here.

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IHPREG Men’s Fertility Study – Participants Wanted!

The Interdisciplinary HIV Parenting Research Group (IHPREG) is actively recruiting for their Men’s Fertility Study to determine whether men living with HIV wish to become parents, and the types of supports that are available to them and their families.

To participate in this study you must be a man (including transgender men) 18 years or older, living in Ontario, and have not already participated in the earlier pilot survey.

Participation involves a single visit in which the participants will be asked to complete an online questionnaire with a member of the research staff. The visit is expected to last about one hour and you will receive $30 for your time!

IHPREG

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Supporting Mothers in Ways that Work: A Resource Toolkit

supporting-mothersSupporting Mothers in Ways that Work is a resource toolkit for service providers working with mothers living with HIV. It is a culmination of conversations over many years with women living with HIV, researchers, clinicians, nurses, social workers, HIV support workers and other community-based service providers who are committee to addressing issues of social justice and care for mothers living with HIV. The goal of this toolkit is to support health and social care providers in effectively meeting the needs of mothers living with HIV, as well as increase awareness and understanding of the psychosocial needs and experiences of women living with HIV during pregnancy, childbirth and early motherhood.

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Addressing Mental Health Issues Related to HAND

REACH 2.0 is pleased to announce the successful funding of a research project that seeks to explore the perspectives of community-based service providers who deliver support and mental health services to people living with HIV on the needed knowledge and preparedness to address mental health issues related to HIV-Associated Neurocognitive Disorders (HAND).

This community-based research project is being conducted by researchers from the Institute of Mental Health Policy Research of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in collaboration with the Ontario HIV Treatment Network and a community advisory board comprised of people living with HIV and service providers who support the mental health of HIV-positive clients. It is the aim of this project to identify the challenges encountered by service providers in the Greater Toronto Area and Southwestern Ontario, as well as the gaps in knowledge and preparedness for addressing mental health issues related to HIV-associated mild to moderate neurocognitive impairments, which negatively impact the quality of life of HIV-positive individuals. It is also the aim of the project to increase awareness, knowledge, and preparedness among service providers who are working towards delivering optimal and sensitive care for people living with or at risk of developing HAND.

REACH 2.0 is thrilled to be able to support this work and looks forward to reporting on their progress as their project continues!

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Job Posting: OHTN-CAMH Applied Research Chair in HIV

The Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, and The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) invite nominations and applications for The Ontario HIV Treatment Network (OHTN) – Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) Applied Research Chair in HIV, Mental Health and Substance Use. This Chair appointment is for a five-year term with the opportunity for renewal upon a successful review and funding availability. The expected start date is July 1, 2017 or shortly thereafter.

In recognition of the interrelationships between mental disorders, substance use and HIV risk, candidates must be prepared to lead the creation of innovative prevention, treatment and policy interventions for risks and harms associated with HIV, mental disorders, and substance use in these vulnerable populations. To demonstrate excellence, the candidate must have a distinguished record of external funding, strong evidence of research and scholarly achievement, and a consistent record of publication and mentorship, combined with a history of highly translational research in relevant areas.

You can read more about the position, necessary qualifications, and the application process here. Deadline is December 30th, 2016, however this position will remain open until filled.

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What’s Hot With Peer Researchers: Live!

Live from the OHTN Conference 2016: HIV Endgame II 

What’s Hot with Peer Researchers?
Maximizing Support:

Highlights from the Supporting PRAs Effectively Workshop

Hosted by James Watson
 Tuesday, November 22nd @ 2:30pm EST

This in demand workshop offered an exciting learning experience for peer researchers & emerging academic researchers interested in community-based research. It provided a broad overview of how, why and when PRAs should be supported. The support framework introduced in the workshop offered practical support tools and best practices for PRAs in five key areas: administrative, financial, debriefing, educational and study methodology. In this interactive live broadcast, we will chat with experienced academics, service providers and PRAs who attended the event to discuss key takeaways and practical support advice.

“What’s Hot?” is an online talk show about community-based research that has people living with HIV as the main protagonists.

This exciting live and online show, will be broadcast using a new and easy to use video conferencing system called Zoom.  You will be asked to download a small Zoom software program when you register.

Please REGISTER HERE  or here: https://bit.ly/whatshotsupport

 

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