Mobilizing Ethnoracial Communities Against HIV Stigma

This CAAT research study aims to generate knowledge on how we can work effectively with faith-based, media and social justice allies within 5 ethno-racial communities (East and Southeast Asian, South Asian, African, Caribbean and Spanish Speaking) in the Greater Toronto Area to work together on HIV issues, in order to increase effectiveness of HIV prevention messages and reduce stigma and discrimination on ethno-racial people with HIV/AIDS.  The study is funded by the Ontario HIV Treatment Network as part of its strategic prevention research program initiative.

The Reason this Study is Important

Research evidence from previous CAAT & ACCHO studies have shown that HIV related stigma and discrimination interferes with HIV prevention efforts by discouraging HIV disclosure, early testing and timely treatment, increasing social isolation and adding to mental distress in the affected communities.

Racialized communities face complex barriers in accessing services related to HIV prevention and support. They are often marginalized and excluded in their own ethnoracial communities due to stigma associated with their HIV status.

The invisibility of PHA leadership in ethnoracial communities and ethnic media further reinforces community denial about the true impact of HIV, and consequently undermines much of the HIV prevention effort

As a result, many people from countries where HIV rates are high continued to contract HIV after their arrival in Canada. In fact, statistics from Public Health Agency if Canada shows that since 2002, immigrants and refugees communities made up 15-20% of all new HIV infections in Canada each year.

How our Study can help Reduce Stigma: 
A look at 3 Sectors Faith, Media and Social Justice

Faith-based organizations, ethno-specific media, and social justice organizations have traditionally played a vital role in the settlement and integration processes among immigrants, refugees and non-status people.
Other studies suggest that ethnoracial populations rely heavily on media for health and health care information and ethnic media also plays an important role in influencing public opinion on many issues.

As of today, these sectors have played a limited role in HIV prevention, education and support. This limits the impact of community responses to HIV/AIDS in ethno-racial communities in Canada, marginalizes HIV/AIDS from the communities’ priority agenda, and reinforces stigma and discrimination against people with HIV/AIDS

This action research study aims to help us develop more understandings on how we can build more effective partnerships with these sectors to do HIV prevention and support work.  Through the process of focus group interviews and community think tank forums, we want to increase the awareness and level of engagement on HIV /AIDS issues amongst these sectors, and to develop some pilot programs with these partners as intervention studies to increase effectiveness in anti-HIV stigma prevention projects.
Our research team consists of academic and community based researchers, clinicians, and community based agency partners, we have hired a part time project coordinator and a peer research assistant from each of our target ethno-racial communities.  We have also successfully engaged a 15 member project advisory committee made of representatives from faith-based, social justice and media from each of our 5 ethno-racial target groups to advise on the design of the project and help us identify participants and allies for future work.  We plan to start our focus group interviews in the coming summer months.

For more information on this project, please contact our research project assistant, Cindy Jolly at 647-520-7507 or