This week I spent a couple of days in Ottawa with the folks at the Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network (CAAN). A few years back I helped their team develop a grant proposal; back then I had an academic appointment and was trying to leverage my position to support CAAN’s community-based research activities. Three years on and I’m now a “staff” person, which paradoxically frees me up to work on things like this as a community member. You know, in my free time.
The study’s not currently described on their site, but it’s about the intersection of alcohol, Aboriginal persons with HIV/AIDS (APHAs) and access to care and treatment. Two patterns of community experience inspired the project:
- stereotypes about Aboriginal people and alcohol abuse leading to bias and exclusion, and
- genuine alcohol use (abuse and not) and the extent to which drinking alcohol is a barrier to care and treatment
In the former, someone whose first language isn’t English or French, or who has some condition or disability that impairs their ability to speak clearly–or someone whose experiences with persons in authority makes them stammer, stutter or become stressed–but are perceived to be drunk. In the latter, someone who has consumed alcohol is denied service because of their consumption–which means persons with an alcohol abuse problem experience de facto exclusion of care.
This is an ambitious, comprehensive, sophisticated community-based research project. Mixed methods (questionnaires and interviews) of data collection will be used. APHAs and service providers will both participate.
I am pleased and honored to be a part of a great team.