UWindsor Lance: UWindsor researchers tackle HIV vulnerable youth groups

UWindsor Lance UWindsor researchers tackle HIV vulnerable youth groups Issue 31, Volume 85 Feb. 13, 2013 Jon Liedtke Page 3

UWindsor Lance
Issue 31, Volume 85
Feb. 13, 2013
Jon Liedtke


University of Windsor researchers are teaming up with local non-profits to study the increased risk of HIV/AIDS among African, Caribbean and Black (ACB) youth in Windsor-Essex.

The ACB research project involves using surveys, interviews and focus groups, a community mapping execise and building partnerships and strategies to combat HIV/ AIDS. The study is a partnership between the University of Windsor, Wilfrid Laurier University, Youth Connection Association, African and Caribbean Council on HIV/AIDS in Ontario and the AIDS Committee of Windsor.

“Based on the literature review and the epidemiological data for Canada, we know that African, Caribbean and black people are more vulnerable to HIV infection than those who are not,” explained Eleanor Maticka-Tyndale, a sociology professor and principal investigator of the study. “The infection rate of that segment of the Canadian population is several (six) times higher than it is in other segments of the
population.”

With roughly $375,000 in funding, Maticka-Tyndale is attempting to answer why this is the case, determine what the factors are, and how to design programming to address this.

The project will examine how experiences make youth vulnerable to HIV infection and how other experiences make youth resilient.

The program used ACB youth who were heavily involved in both the fine-tuning and creation of the actual survey and “understanding the youth from
the youth perspective,” said ACB Youth Advisory Committee chair Danait Asgedom.

“We give youth the opportunity to be involved … it is not a bunch of adults saying what youth are doing, it is youth that are being given the opportunity to be informed, empowered and able to take leadership roles.”

The program focused on youth because the researchers wanted to “capture young people before they move into that marriage and family stage,” said Asgedom. “What we wanted was young people in that pre-family formation and responsibility stage of their life … we wanted to tap a population where the majority were not going to be in those long-term relationships because that adds a different dynamic to what is going on.”

Maticka-Tyndale added, “after the data is collected, we will hold events to convey the information back to the community and it will take another year for the survey results. Once we get half of the results, we’ll take a preliminary look and set our directions for the community mapping.”

The AIDS Committee of Windsor is a co-partner and researcher for the ACB study, and Lydia Chan, the ACB outreach co-ordinator for the AIDS Committee, said they
have “been providing insight in terms of involving some PHA (persons who live with HIV/ AIDS), as well as providing help in terms of confidentiality and navigating issues.”

“The ACB study ties into the goals of our programming,” stated Chan, “I go to the community and do educational presentations and outreach activities because the province has recognized that people from the ACB community are disproportionately affected by HIV and AIDS in Ontario, so they need special focus that is culturally appropriate.”

With approximately 710 known cases of HIV in Windsor, Chan explained that “HIV is more common than you would think and it is good to keep in mind that one-third of the population doesn ‘t know what their status is, so it’s greater than that.”

Sarah Davidson, a former outreach manager for the AIDS Committee of Windsor, said, “it’s hard to get any audience, especially young people, to grasp that HIV is an
issue everywhere in the world, including our own community. It doesn’t have to do with who you are, but it has to do with your behaviour … that’s a hard concept for young people to grasp … the seriousness behind all STIs, including HIV.”


UWindsor Lance
UWindsor researchers tackle HIV vulnerable youth groups
Issue 31, Volume 85
Feb. 13, 2013
Jon Liedtke
Page 3

Jon Liedtke was the Features and Opinions Editor, Associate News Editor, Advertising Manager and Deficit Consultant at the UWindsor Lance.