Newcomer’s Sexual Health Promotion Project
Description of Program
As newcomers to Canada, many IRN-PHAs (Immigrant, Refugee, Non-Status People living with HIV/AIDS) endure challenges related to their migration and adaptation to a new environment. Many of this population struggle with confusing policies and procedures on their immigration process while transitioning to a new culture. In particular, many of them face service access barriers and difficulty obtaining medical, employment, housing support as a result of negative attitudes and discriminatory practices directed toward their HIV and immigration status.
The project was developed based on findings and recommendations from CAAT’s “Improving Mental Health Service Access for Immigrant and Refugee PHAs Research Study” and needs articulated by participants in our “HIV and Immigration Service Access Training program” and “HIV/AIDS Disclosure and Criminalization and its impact on newcomers” forum.
Funded by the City of Toronto AIDS Prevention Community Investment Program, the Newcomer’s PHA Sexual Health Promotion Project was founded by the Committee for Accessible AIDS Treatment in 2010 to improve the health of Newcomer PHAs from the diverse ethno-racial communities (African, Carribbean, Latin, East Asian and South Asian communities) through peer based outreach and educational activities to increase the visibility and effectiveness of HIV/AIDS and STI prevention and sexual health promotion messages, addressing issues of HIV disclosure and criminalization, and to provide education on immigration policies and service access barrier issues based on immigration status, sero-positivity, cultural differences, mental health, and social determinants of health.
The objective of the Newcomer Sexual Health Promotion Project is to reduce the vulnerability facing Newcomer IRN-PHAs to HIV and STIs as well as criminalization through outreaching and engaging them in peer-based educational workshops and information sessions on HIV and STI prevention and care, negotiation/disclosure skills, immigration policies and service access awareness.
Informational Sessions and Specific Workshops
The Newcomer Sexual Health Promotion Project provides informational sessions for a general audience of newcomers at shelters, settlement agencies, AIDS Service Organizations and LGBT agencies on the following topics:
- Healthy Sexuality and the Negotiation of Safer Sex Practices
- Stigma and Discrimination
- Immigration Polices and Health Care Coverage
- Disclosure of Personal Information, and Behaviours that Could Lead to Jail Time
- Service Access Awareness
The Newcomer Sexual Health Promotion Project also provides specific workshops for Newcomer PHAs on the following topics:
- HIV/AIDS and STI Prevention, Safer Sex Practices, and Harm Reduction
- HIV Stigma and Discrimination
- HIV and Immigration Policies
- HIV Disclosure and Criminalization
- Service Access Awareness for PHAs on Housing, Health, Financial Assistance, Employment, Legal Aid, Education and Food Security/Nuturition
- Public Health
- Toronto People’s With AIDS Foundation (TPWAF)
- HIV/AIDS Legal Clinic of Ontario (HALCO)
- Canadian HIV Legal Network (CHLN)
- Canadian AIDS Treatment Information Exchange (CATIE)
- Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI)
- The Ethno-racial Treatment Support Network (ETSN): Africans in Partnership Against AIDS (APAA), Alliance for South Asian AIDS Prevention (ASAAP), Asian Community AIDS Services (ACAS), Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention (Black-CAP), Canadian AIDS Treatment Information Exchange (CATIE), Centre for Spanish Speaking People (CSSP), and Latinos Positivos Ontario (LPO).
The Newcomer Sexual Health Promotion Project (NSHPP) hired a coordinator and five peer facilitators each from the project’s target communities, including African, Caribbean, East Asian, South Asian and Latino/Spanish speaking communities. The project staff team worked with the project advisory group and developed 5 educational workshops for newcomer at-risk and affected communities on issues of:
- Stigma and discrimination
- STI and Sexual health
- Immigration and legal issues
- HIV disclosure
- HIV prevention and care
Proactive outreach to at risk and affected newcomer populations was also delivered by project staff and peers in settlement agencies, refugee shelters, community centres, health and HIV/AIDS service agencies. This has successfully resulted in many agency partners engaging and inviting our project to provide educational workshops to the populations they serve.
Our project staff team members are:
Project coordinator: Godelive Ndayikengurukiye