Indigenous, Peer-Led, Wellness Support for HIV and HCV Care

Current evidence demonstrates that the rates of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Hepatitis C (HCV) among Indigenous peoples are at least three and five higher than among the non-Indigenous population in Canada. This inequitable gap in HIV/HCV burden is also gendered, as Indigenous women (cis-women and trans-women) present the Indigenous faces of HIV and HCV in Canada.

This distribution is counter-mirrored for health care, where Indigenous women who are living with HIV and/or HCV are underrepresented. Peer navigation (PN) is emerging as a promising innovative approach to enhance the delivery of HIV/HCV health care. This research explores the use of peer navigation to build capacity for culturally safe and responsive care for Indigenous women who are living with HIV/HCV in British Columbia (BC). The current landscape of PN research and practice is lacking an Indigenous focus, as well as an HCV and co-infection focus. This misses the mark from epidemiological, reconciliatory and practical perspectives.

The study will extend the scope of innovative research on peer navigation and HIV/HCV health care, by focusing on Indigenous women and emphasizing Indigenous ways of supportive HIV/HCV care. The goal is to develop a toolkit of wise practices of Indigenous peer navigation models for HIV/HCV wellness and health care support. The kit will be adaptable for contextual and cultural responsiveness.

Additionally, this study applies qualitative Indigenous research methodology, which emphasizes Indigenous paradigms, and incorporates compatible aspects of Western paradigms through a Two-eyed Seeing approach. This research methodology will strengthen capacity for Indigenous HIV/HCV research and practice in the community and beyond.

The key objectives are to:

  • Establish and implement ethical and culturally responsive community engagement strategies
  • Identify barriers to HIV/HCV health care, including supportive wellness and care
  • Explore the feasibility of peer navigation as a culturally responsive framework (CRF) for supportive HIV/HCV wellness and health care,
  • Identify key elements of a CRF for supportive HIV/HCV wellness and health care
  • Develop a toolkit of wise practices of Indigenous models for HIV/HCV wellness and health care support
  • Identify key elements of Indigenous research methodologies that can be applied to mobilize CRF for HIV/HCV wellness and health research.

We expect that the implementation of the toolkit will improve the engagement and retention of Indigenous women in HIV/HCV health care, and thus alleviate their HIV/HCV-related disease burden.

This research was funded by Gilead Sciences.

For more information please contact:

Sadeem Fayed –

Candice Norris –