The right to equitable and accessible health care “for all people without discrimination” is the guiding force behind Indigenous responses to HIV/AIDS.
The Indigenous Peoples living with HIV (IPHA) Caucus and Indigenous Leadership Standing Committee (ILSC) are at the heart of all we do at CAAN.
Enacting the phrase “Nothing about us without us,” CAAN staff look to the IPHA Caucus to provide advice and direction on how best to respond to HIV and AIDS issues at the national level. This includes giving direction on the resources and programs to be developed by CAAN and identifying research priorities that need to be addressed in research grant submissions.
Membership of the Caucus and the Leadership Standing Committee is closed to IPHAs so they can discuss issues that are important to them and to provide a safe meeting space where IPHAs can be themselves without the worry of stigma or discrimination. Within the Caucus, old friendships are strengthened, and new lifelong friendships are born. Regional IPHA Leaders support each other through the quarterly meetings where they share wise practices, regional updates and the struggles and successes of living with HIV and working in their regions as advocates for IPHAs.
For more information about the IPHA Caucus, please contact the Director of National Programs, Tamara O’Donnell.
IPHAs and the ILSC
CAAN is committed to respecting the principles of GIPA, the Greater Involvement of People Living with HIV/AIDS, and MIPA/MEPA, the Meaning Involvement/Engagement of People Living with HIV/AIDS, and this is reflected in the overall program development, implementation, and evaluation processes.
Opportunities for dialogue and input into CAAN’s work is provided annually through the IPHA Caucus, and as of September 2019 the introduction of an Indigenous People Living with hepatitis C (IPhepC) Caucus. These annual events provide individuals with an opportunity to identify current issues and needs, as well as solution-based approaches as wise practices. These discussions are captured and presented as resolutions that are reviewed and confirmed at the CAAN governance level.
Ongoing conversation occurs at sessions scheduled regularly throughout the year, with members of the Caucus participating in standing committees; currently there is one – the Indigenous Leadership Standing Committee (formally the Aboriginal Leadership Standing Committee) – and with logistical and technical support provided through the IPHA Liaison feedback is provided to CAAN leadership to improve the informed-decision making process.
Standing Committee participation has been minimal, and significantly impacted by the realities presented by COVID-19. Internal approaches are being identified to address this issue with the objective of improving engagement. One such approach is the acquisition of a Communication Manager to the CAAN Operations team, where multiple points of contact are being reviewed to determine the most effective and efficient approaches and improve accessibility to IPHA’s and IPhepC’s to CAAN activities and events. This strategy will see a virtual presence through social media, website and member’s portals. CAAN is confident that inclusion and involvement opportunities will have a direct impact on overall project outcomes both now and into the future as CAAN’s responsiveness is strengthened.
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