The aim of the Positive Prevention program is to empower people living with HIV & AIDS, promote healthy relationships with sexual partners, strengthen the health overall well-being of HIV + individuals, and reduce the possibility of new HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
The program addresses the various health needs of HIV positive individuals, such as disclosure, self-esteem, negotiating and practicing safer sex, nutrition, medication adherence and transmission risks. The program also aims to provide support and resources on common issues and concerns that can affect people living with HIV & AIDS.
In recognition of the link between homophobia and negative health outcomes, including risk to HIV infection, ACG's Positive Prevention program now also aims to reduce stigma and homophobia, improve community awareness and create a more supportive community for at-risk groups.
Previous components to the program have included an Educational Workshop Series, a 9-week Train-the-Trainer Positive Prevention course, and 1-on-1 education sessions. Our program is currently offering a variety of new and continuing activities and projects.
If you are interested in participating, volunteering, or simply would like more information, please contact Olivia.
Current activities & projects:
- Homophobic Graffiti: A Documentary Photography Project
This summer, youth, gay men and people living with HIV & AIDS are invited to participate in a photography project that will be capturing - and challenging - homophobic graffiti in our community. This project will culminate in a traveling slideshow to community based organizations serving youth, a Flickr account and a photobook. This project is open to everyone, but people living with HIV & AIDS, youth and gay men are encouraged to participate.4
The AIDS Committee of Guelph & Wellington County is partnering with The Guelph Little Theatre to present The Laramie Project, the story behind the tragic beating and killing of Matthew Shepard. Using the words from interviews conducted with townspeople to form the script, this play explores why and how such a crime could be committed against someone because they are gay. The Positive Prevention Coordinator will be participating in Q&A sessions after the evening performances on Friday, May 25 and Saturday, May 26. For more details, visit the Guelph Little Theatre website. It is hoped that this play will generate self-reflection and discussion to consider how we can make Guelph a safer and more supportive community for LGBTQ individuals.
- Challenging Homophobia & AIDS-Phobia: an iphone app
We are in the process of creating an iphone app that can be used to challenge homophobia & AIDS-phobia. The app will have several components. For example, the app will generate retorts to homophobic comments and provide question & answer "myth busters" that clarify HIV transmission risks.
The Positive Prevention Train-the-Trainer course saw its participants enhance their communication and workshop facilitation skills. To date, several educational workshops have been conducted by graduates of this program, including workshops on HIV & Aging, Medical Marijuana, Cooking with Food from the Food Bank, Resilience, and HIV & Relationships. In late fall, 2012, people living with HIV & AIDS will be encouraged to develop and present workshops of any topic that will help improve health or well-being. These workshops will be private to people living with HIV & AIDS in order to protect confidentiality.
Providing information on HIV, disclosure and the Law is always a challenge because of the complexities and sensitive nature of these issues. Recent research conducted at ACG is suggesting that ACG participants have persistent questions and challenges around these issues. This program will see the development and presentation of disclosure workshops that are interactive, pratical, and that present the information in new and accessible ways.
- Disclosure Booklet for HIV-negative partners
Getting into a new relationship when you are HIV-positive is a challenge, partly because the HIV-negative partner may have many questions and concerns that are difficult to address. Feedback from participants on this issue has suggested that a simple & easy-to-read, yet comprehensive booklet on HIV, including facts about transmission, safer sex, as well as relationship issues, would be helpful. We will be gathering feedback from ACG participants about what kinds of information should be included, and then will create a booklet for distribution.
You may have noticed that we have a blog, which includes stories from participants of the Positive Prevention program, such as Church Mouse and Chat Junkie. If you are a person living with HIV & AIDS and would like to blog, the Positive Prevention Coordinator will help you learn how to blog, and will provide ongoing editing and support. You may also follow the Positive Prevention Coordinator on Twitter with the handle @aidsguelph or check us out on Facebook.
How can I get involved?
The Positive Prevention program is based on the principles of GIPA (Greater Involvement of People Living with HIV & AIDS) and MIPA (More Meaningful Involvement of People Living with HIV & AIDS). If you are a person living with HIV & AIDS, we encourage you to get involved in the Positive Prevention program, by participating in one of the above activities and/or providing feedback about the program. You may also wish to participate in Social Hour, Yoga classes, and Movie Night, which are led through our Support program.
If you are interested in facilitating or planning a workshop, or are curious about blogging, but are concerned that you might not have the skills, remember that the Positive Prevention Coordinator will help support you in this process, providing training, supervision and debriefing. In past experiences, peers have also been very supportive of one another, and workshops and social media experiences often lead to mutual learning and enhanced confidence.
Benefits of the Program
Our program aims to enhance the ability of people living with HIV & AIDS to have fulfilling emotional and sexual relationships and to live well with HIV. An important part of this process is thinking holistically about health, including emotional, social, and mental well-being, in addition to physical health. It is our hope that skills-development, community engagement, and peer interaction/support will aid in these goals.
Some specific benefits of the program may include:
- Greater involvement with your community, including peers as well as the broader community
- Increased support among peers & workers, especially support in your skills development
- Improved confidence, especially as you learn and are able to do things you may have not thought possible!
- Increased understanding of HIV & AIDS, STIs, and Hepatitis C transmission
- Improved skills in disclosure, negotiating safer sex practices, and familiarity with the law
- Improved communication skills in relationships
- Social networks
- Knowledge about how to live well with HIV
For more information, or with any questions, please contact Olivia.