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Valuable HIV/AIDS tool launched


Jolene Davis, Windspeaker Contributor, SUDBURY, Ont.







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An edition of the Native Social Work Journal dedicated to HIV/AIDS within the Aboriginal population was launched Dec. 1 in Sudbury.

?This special edition of the journal is extremely important because it examines an issue in society where there is very little literature. Without the needed resources to diminish the threat of HIV/AIDS, Aboriginal communities have little protection against the rising infection and death rates,? said journal editor Shuyler Webster, associate professor in the Native Human Services program, school of Social Work, at Laurentian University.

?The reasons for this initiative were because of the pandemic rates of HIV/AIDS being reported in Aboriginal populations. A recent Canada Laboratory Centre for Disease Control report indicated that the rate of HIV among Aboriginal populations has increased by 91 per cent during the last five years.

?It is hoped that this special journal can assist communities to promote current awareness and understanding of HIV issues specific to Aboriginal populations,? said Webster.

This special edition journal features Aboriginal community-based HIV/AIDS ventures currently underway. By documenting successful intervention projects in areas of care, treatment, and support, information can be shared with First Nations communities, health and social services organizations, educational facilities, as well as various levels of government. Two years in the making, the journal involved more than 150 Aboriginal people across the country. The Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network (CAAN) assisted in recruiting First Nations, Metis, and Inuit representatives for planning the project and editing submitted articles.

?Ultimately, we wanted the Aboriginal perspective to emerge on the issues and challenges being addressed from a number of persons, organizations, and researchers who are in the front lines advocating for greater community awareness and more effective services,? said Webster, who is Oneida/Menomini.

As well as successes, the journal also points out serious gaps in HIV/AIDS awareness, treatment and research programs. ?Aboriginal populations do not have the same level of resources available to combat AIDS at the education, prevention, and treatment levels in comparison to what is available to the general Canadian population,? said Webster. ?As a result, there exists a health care crisis in the incidence of HIV/AIDS among Canadian Aboriginals.?

Canadian AIDS organizations say that funding has not increased for a decade and is simply inadequate for effective programs.

The Native Social Work Journal, only three years old, is especially interested in publishing articles that describe culture-based programs using traditional knowledge or collaborations with Western-based methods. For the

HIV/AIDS issue, agencies that required some technical assistance in telling their stories were assisted by others that have expertise in academic article development.

?This proved to be an immensely successful strategy and contributed to a number of quality articles,? said Webster.

The launch of the HIV/AIDS issue of the Native Social Work Journal was part of the Aboriginal AIDS Awareness Day activities organized across the country by CAAN. It also tied in to World AIDS Day. The event was jointly sponsored by the Laurentian University Native Education Council,

Laurentian?s Native Human Services Program, Shwagamik-Kwe Health Centre, Access AIDS Committee Sudbury and the Chief?s of Ontario HIV/AIDS Prevention Project. Funding for the journal was obtained from Health Canada.

Fifteen hundred copies of the special journal will be distributed to various First Nations, Inuit and Metis organizations and agencies. For more information about the Native Social Work Journal contact Laurentian University at (705) 675-1151 ext. 5049.