Women's College Research Institute

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Working with Aboriginal women to reduce HIV

Research initiative funded in time for National Aboriginal Day

Women account for 48 per cent of Aboriginal people living in Canada who test positive for HIV, compared to 20 per cent in the non-Aboriginal population. Yet studies focused on the concerns of Aboriginal women in the context of HIV infection are scarce.

Postdoctoral fellow Dr. Anita C. Benoit is doing research that will help to improve HIV services, so that they better target and support Aboriginal women.

“In one of my pilot projects, I’m working to identify the stressors that Aboriginal women living with HIV face daily,” says Benoit. “We’re hoping to design a stress-reducing therapeutic intervention that will allow Aboriginal women to practice traditional healing approaches in addition to conventional stress-management approaches.”

Benoit is doing this work in partnership with Aboriginal women, community groups, researchers and allied researchers.

What makes the study unique from other stress management interventions in the literature is that it’s informed by the community, which Benoit explains is important when working with Aboriginal people.

“The women are very engaged with this initiative,” says Benoit, “they have provided important feedback throughout the study that will help to inform future phases of the research project.”

In addition, under the supervision of Women’s College scientist Dr. Mona Loutfy, Benoit has been awarded a CIHR planning grant entitled, Canadian HIV Women's Sexual and Reproductive Health Cohort Study (CHIWOS) - Expansion into a Pan-Canadian Study with Positive Aboriginal Women. In collaborations with Aboriginal stakeholders and researchers, the grant will fund a meeting to discuss how to increase the engagement and recruitment of Aboriginal women into the study.

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  • Fully affiliated with:
  • University of Toronto

  • A member of:
  • Council of Academic Hospitals of Ontario (CAHO)