We are excited that our Newcomer PHA Sexual Health Promotion Project, funded by the City of Toronto AIDS Prevention Community Investment Program, has our funding renewed for the year 2011-2012!. This project aims to improve the health of Newcomer PHAs and to reduce their vulnerability to HIV/STI and criminalization through peer-based outreach and education activities and was launched in October 2010.
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. All identified a heightened vulnerability of newcomer PHAs due to lack of access to sexual health and legal information and support related to their immigration status, mental health, HIV status and other social determinants of health.
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.
We are excited that the City of Toronto has renewed our program’s funding for the coming year and we are looking forward to expanding our outreach efforts to reach and engage more newcomer PHAs who are not connected to HIV service agencies.