The Calgary HIV Social Society (CHSS) self-determined and organized several social-recreational monthly events to reduce and understand the effects of social isolation and stigma that people living with HIV face every day. It has been found that COVID-19 had impacted the lives of people living with HIV by creating significant isolation for those already stigmatized because of living with HIV. Using a Participatory Action Research (PAR) methodology and focus group at the end of the events, the research showed how COVID 19, and the related concurring isolation has impacted the lives of people living with HIV. The research included three in-person social gatherings with a total of 60 participants living with HIV attending and a focus group with 10 participants. The social gatherings around the city of Calgary, Alberta showed how the possibility of having a safe space and being supported by people who live with similar systematic barriers, buffers the detrimental, social stigmatization of living with HIV and its secrecy. The research brought forth a better understanding on how social connection (including on-line support) during COVID-19 for persons living with HIV increased their general sense of belonging, reduced stigma and was a protective factor for their overall mental health.
co-empowerment, self-determination, community, COVID-19, focus groups, HIV, isolation, participatory action research, social gatherings, stigma
We would like to thank Mount Royal University for its continued financial and academic support as we continue to develop capacity with the HIV community, its peer-researchers and all participants that attended and engaged the research process. We thank all members of this action-oriented research process as the hours of work and support are tremendous and have helped support the ongoing vitality of this participatory action research project.
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Recommended APA Citation
Miller, P. M., Oliver, B., LaPointe, K., Samson, K. A., & Sabella, V. (2024). Building Community for Those Living With HIV: Co-Empowerment and Participatory Action Research. The Qualitative Report, 29(2), 516-534. https://doi.org/10.46743/2160-3715/2024.6424