S.T.O.P HIV/AIDS Project Report – Spring 2012

Please accept our sincere thanks for your contribution to the STOP HIV project.  We are writing to follow up on your participation in the survey, interviews and discussion groups conducted this past January and February, gathering feedback about people’s experience of STOP services and their priorities for 2013 and beyond. We are happy to include here the report summarizing feedback.

If you are receiving the report by email but are having difficulty opening the document, please do not hesitate to contact Margreth Tolson by phone (604-708-5320) or email ([email protected]) and a paper-copy will be posted to you.  Also, if you know of anyone who would like a copy of the report, please feel free to forward it on to them, or contact Margreth and she can send a copy.

As in previous phases of consultation, participants contributed many insightful observations and recommendations, including:

Public Awareness Campaigns and Peer Education:  Lessening stigma about HIV testing has been effective but the stigma associated with being HIV positive is an important direction to consider in future campaigns, for example, educating the public about the ‘new reality’ of living healthy with HIV.

HIV Testing and Diagnosis:  Participants reported that the rapid HIV test has greatly improved uptake of testing, and testing provided at public events is particularly effective when peers and nurses check with people for other health needs while they wait in line, and when people can choose whether to be tested by a medical professional or a peer.  Routine testing for HIV in hospitals is new, and there was no general consensus between participants on this topic.  For some, it is a public health responsibility; others were concerned about the patient’s experience of being asked to take a test.

Linkage to Care:  Participants reported that services seem better organized and linkages are more visible and seamless from one service to the next.  Peer navigators have made a significant contribution to the success of the STOP project, helping people to prepare for the HIV test, providing emotional support, and accompanying new patients through the system so they can become confident in managing their health.

HIV Treatment and Retention:  Participants spoke very highly of the care received from HIV specialists in hospitals and clinics, and gave many positive examples of how they had been prepared and supported to start and stay on HIV medications.  The healthcare provider’s approach cannot be underestimated in its impact on patient willingness to start medications.  Physician education should continue with regard to how to deliver medication information in ways that are positive and empowering to patients.

Ongoing Support for People Living with HIV:  Discussion and education groups remain important, and suggestions for the future cover a wide range of interests and demographics, such as HIV and aging, back-to-school/work programs, and family involvement.  Participants also suggest that a funding mechanism be created so that HIV+ people and medical/professional allies can apply for grants to run community empowerment projects.

Thank you again to everyone who participated in this consultation.  Your contributions much appreciated and your recommendations will be included in planning future HIV services in Vancouver.

Yours truly,
Margreth Tolson
Leader, Community Engagement
Vancouver Coastal Health

Kath Webster
Community Representative (Vancouver)
S.T.O.P. Leadership Committee

To download a copy of the report please CLICK HERE.