KAMLOOPS - Kamloops is the site of an ongoing HIV research project.
Vicki NyGaard is a researcher for the Pacific AIDS Network and is interviewing people from the Kamloops area who are HIV positive. She wants to know about their life and their homes. The goal of the study is to learn more about how people’s housing affects how they live with HIV.
“Housing is a key issue, because if you’re not stably or safely housed, are you in a position to take your medication everyday? Are in a position to make the kind of food that you need to meet your nutritional requirements everyday?” she says. “There’s this intersection between all these factors.”
Along with Kamloops, the Positive Living, Positive Homes study is being conducted in Prince George and Vancouver.
“People who are HIV positive have been asking for years for somebody to do a study on housing," she says.
Nygaard is working out of the Aids Society of Kamloops office on the North Shore, where she conducts in-depth interviews.
Her goal is to speak to 35 or more people by the end of the two-year study. She says since she started in August 2015 she’s spoken to about 10, adding it has been a bit harder to reach people in Prince George and Kamloops.
“People who are really, really marginalized tend to access ASK Wellness as well as a number of other social services in Kamloops and are easier to reach,” she says.
It's the population of healthy people who are HIV positive she's having more difficulty reaching.
“They own their own homes and don’t access services other than going to their family doctor,” she says. “The deal with HIV now is for most people, depending if they can tolerate the drug, it’s one pill a day or three pills a day and they live long and healthy lives. Everything has changed. You live with it.”
She’s hopeful people will come forward to talk to her though, because the researchers need to know what works when it comes to housing.
There can be benefits for participants as well. Because the study is a community-based research project, its focus is less on the academic ends and more on engaging with the study’s participants to help them deal with the issues they are having, she says.
The research is being organized by the Pacific AIDS Network, a B.C. based organization networking together groups who work with people who are HIV positive. The University of Victoria is the academic overseer and the study is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
To become a research participant you can contact Nygaard via email at email@example.com.
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