CAAT organized a Café Scientifique – a research forum funded by CIHR to share our CHAMP knowledge and experience with the broader general public. The Café titled “Champions Across Boundaries: Voices of Faith, Media, Social Justice and PHA Leaders Against HIV Stigma was held on March 26, 2013 at the Daniels Spectrum, in Toronto, a community-friendly space in the Regent Pak area. It was organized by CIHR funded researchers – Dr. Josephine P. Wong (Ryerson University); Dr. Alan Li (Regent Park Community Health Centre); Dr. Kenneth Fung (University of Toronto), in partnership with the Committee for Accessible AIDS Treatment (CAAT) and the Ontario HIV Treatment Network (OHTN).
The goal of this Café Scientifique was to raise awareness of HIV stigma as a major barrier to effective HIV prevention, testing, treatment and care, and exchange knowledge on effective stigma reduction strategies. The objectives of the café include: 1) to disseminate the preliminary results of the CHAMP Study conducted by the Committee for Accessible AIDS Treatment (CAAT); 2)to showcase effective capacity building strategies in mobilizing ethno-racial leaders and PHAs to become HIV champions; 3) to facilitate cross-sector networking and promote collaborations to reduce HIV stigma.
The Café Scientifique utilized multiple innovative and interactive methods to engage the audience / attendees, including short presentations on research findings, storytelling by community champions, and experiential learning activities drawn from the CHAMP Study intervention (e.g., mindfulness, social inclusion/exclusion circle, etc.). These innovative methods supported Café participants to gain not only new knowledge about our study results on HIV stigma but also to gain insights about stigma reduction strategies through experiential learning when they take part in the small group activities.
The Café was attended by over 40 community members from the faith-based, media, social justice, HIV sectors and students from social and health disciplines who expressed interest in learning more about CHAMP’s two interventions of ACT and SJCB. ACT combines mindfulness and behavioural change strategies to increase flexibility in dealing with stigma and stressors. They also expressed increased skills acquisition and capacity that enabled them to be understand HIV stigma and its manifestation in their respective communities. SJCB combines health promotion and anti-oppressive strategies to build health literacy and evidence-based advocacy skills.