Ethno-racial Treatment Support Network (ETSN)

Learning and Helping Out: Peer Treatment & Counselling Training for Culturally Diverse Communities

The ETSN training program was specifically developed to support newcomer PHAs in many skill areas including treatment literacy, health promotion, service navigation and peer counseling and support. It is an intensive training course facilitated by treatment experts, HIV positive peers and health service providers for PHAs, service providers and caregivers from culturally diverse communities. ETSN is a partnership initiative of the five ethnoracial AIDS services organizations in Toronto.

The ETSN is organized as a 4-level capacity building program.

Level 1 – (3 full days in person or 5 sessions online self and group learning) Helping ourselves, focuses on treatment literacy and communication skills with health care providers.
Level 2 – (4 full days) Helping others, focuses on peer counselling support skills.
Level 3 – (1 full day + mentored practices) Facilitating graduates of level 2 to take on the role of peer facilitators.
Level 4 – Group and individual training for peer facilitators who have demonstrated strong leadership qualities to take on mentoring roles of other peer facilitators.

Since our first training in 2003, more than 250 participants had successfully completed the training programs. Graduates continue to engage in ongoing training and social activities through treatment updates, workshops, reunion meetings, and other skills development activities. Graduates of the ETSN program are eligible to enrol in the PHA mentorship program: Legacy Project. Since 2020 we have also implemented an online module for Level 1, and are actively working on getting the other levels online

The key skills gained by a PHA during this program

  • Understanding the health and treatment issues related to HIV (ie. understanding and monitoring lab results, starting or changing HIV therapy, side effects and making sense of HIV research information)
  • Peer based counseling skills on treatment issues and support.
  • Addressing the cultural specific issues affecting living with HIV

Many ETSN peer graduates were trained to become peer facilitators on subsequent trainings and are encouraged to share their learning with peers in their supporting agency. Our peer graduates also use their skills in many different organizations, including ASOs, health care services, settlement or community services and in employment or volunteering.

The program is offered based on the availability of resources, usually once a year.

Participating in ETSN program

PHAs, service providers and caregivers from the culturally diverse communities who are actively involved in PHAs support and education. All potential participants undergo a screening process.

You can also get additional information through the PHA support program staff of our partner agencies :