PROMISING PRACTICE
 

HIV Edmonton


QUICK FACTS

AUDIENCE   Settlement, social, and health service providers

POPULATION OF INTEREST   Immigrants and refugees

LOCATION   Edmonton, AB

THE NEED   It is recognized that a positive HIV result upon immigration can exacerbate the social isolation often experienced by newcomers which can have lingering mental health effects.

WHAT'S PROMISING   HIV Edmonton developed the Newcomer Support Program to provide intensive support to newcomer individuals with HIV to address their underscoring emotional, informational and mental health needs

KEY TAKEAWAY   To reduce denial, stigma, and discrimination, as service providers it is important to engage in conversations about mental and sexual health while facilitating ongoing treatment, care and support for individuals living with HIV


HIV Edmonton was founded by Michael Phair and a group of close friends in 1984, as Edmonton braced for its own AIDS outbreak. HIV Edmonton adopted harm reduction principles, and was developed to provide support for individuals living with or affected by HIV in the community. The agency was originally called the AIDS Network of Edmonton, but in 1999 it changed its name to HIV Edmonton to better reflect the advancements in the area of HIV and AIDS.

HIV Edmonton is a charitable organization serving people and communities primarily in metropolitan Edmonton. We are dedicated to making life better for people living with, or affected by HIV and AIDS. We do this by focusing on the elimination of HIV transmission and AIDS-related deaths and working to erase the stigma and discrimination faced by people living with, and affected by HIV and AIDS. 

HIV Edmonton supports people living with, and affected by HIV and AIDS by: developing educational resources for community organizations, healthcare professionals and the general public; developing and delivering prevention, health promotion and support programs; and providing a voice for people living with, and affected by HIV and AIDS through our work with local, provincial and national organizations on policy development, health strategy and program design.

We recognized a positive HIV result upon immigration can exacerbate the social isolation often experienced by newcomers which can have lingering mental health effects. Through our Newcomer Support Program funded by IRCC, we provide intensive support to newcomer individuals to address their underscoring emotional, informational and mental health needs, from a strengths-based approach. The program also provides a safe supportive environment for clients to express themselves without fear of judgement or prejudice. The Newcomer Support Program Coordinator offers one-on-one support which includes trauma-informed crisis counselling and referrals to other mental health support across the city. The Coordinator also facilitates group workshops to normalize conversations around sexual health to ensure participants are well-equipped to make informed choices regarding their health and wellness.

It is crucial to create a positive and welcoming environment for all who use our services. To reduce denial, stigma, and discrimination we have to engage in conversations about mental and sexual health while facilitating ongoing treatment, care and support for individuals living with HIV. It is also important to acknowledge the complex relationship between immigration/refugee status and health outcomes. A strengths-based approach can be an effective way to address these complexities.

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