Sexual Health Through Education
Many newcomers to Canada believe that HIV is not a risk to them in this country. This two-year project (2012-14) provided HIV prevention and awareness education within a number of African newcomer communities in Winnipeg. Community based workshops and leaders’ forums were provided, some with point-of-care (on-site) HIV testing available. Through educational and capacity building meetings we engaged HIV-positive newcomers (“peers”) in the project.
The Canadian Association for the Study of the Liver estimates that approximately one third of all new cases of Hepatitis C occur in immigrant populations. An exploratory assessment carried out through the Improving Access project found that there was little knowledge of this disease among newcomers; yet there were a number of cultural practices which supported transmission of the disease. Through community engagement and education with immigrant and refugee communities and through capacity building of informal leaders, this project aimed to reduce the transmission of Hepatitis C in immigrant and refugee communities in Winnipeg.
Between 2007 and 2012 this project aimed to improve access to HIV information and services in Winnipeg and Brandon, as well as to provide culturally relevant HIV awareness and prevention for newcomer communities. The project also engaged HIV-positive peers in education and capacity-building. Project activities have included multi-sectoral service provider training and networking, resource development (including a manual for service providers on working with immigrants and refugees, multi-lingual pamphlets on HIV), environmental scans, needs assessments, and community-based education including community leader engagement, sometimes with point-of-care testing. Increasingly the focus has been on African newcomer communities, with specific additional work focusing on for example, African men, or co-infection.