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The Programming Connection: Linking Evidence to Practice for HIV and HCV Prevention in Canada

Spring 2011

The Programming Connection: Linking Evidence to Practice for HIV and HCV Prevention in Canada

To increase the impact of their work and deliver even better programming, service providers are coming forward to ask what's working and what's not working -- not only in their own programs but in the work of fellow service providers. As one step in a broader effort to bridge the gap between front-line programming and research evidence, CATIE has recently launched the Programming Connection: Shared experience, stronger programs -- an online collection of case studies of Canadian front-line programs, including related planning and delivery tools.

What Is the Programming Connection?

The Programming Connection was developed in collaboration with a national advisory committee of service providers, program planners, policy-makers and researchers. This online collection of case studies and resources builds primarily on the first-hand knowledge of service providers, to document and share programs that have advanced efforts to prevent HIV and HCV.

How Can It Be Used?

Service providers may be inspired by any of the case studies included in the Programming Connection to implement a similar program in their own organization or to gather ideas to enhance their existing programs. The Programming Connection also has the potential to bring together researchers, program planners, implementers and policy-makers to work collaboratively, to develop research programs that provide relevant evidence for front-line work. Researchers and policy-makers can also gain further insight into the context and practice of prevention work and will hopefully be inspired to connect with programs. The Programming Connection is not a comprehensive inventory of programs but rather an ever-expanding repository of experiences and valuable lessons learned.

How Were the Case Studies Developed?

To develop each case study, CATIE speaks with front-line workers involved in the program to learn about and document the details of the program's creation and implementation, as well as what has worked and what hasn't. These details are presented in a step-by-step form, making it easy for other service providers to put themselves in the shoes of the program creator and workers. Along the way, key findings from the programs are provided along with practical tips for implementation, including required resources, associated costs, barriers to implementation and other factors that can facilitate or impede efforts to recreate the program in another context.

Examples of Programs in the Programming Connection

The Programming Connection includes diverse programs, including:

  • The PEP Program, at Clinique médicale l'Actuel, which aims to increase access to PEP among people who have been recently exposed to HIV through sex or drug use. Currently, PEP is the only method of HIV prevention designed to be used after an individual has been exposed to the virus.
  • Operation Hairspray, Ottawa Public Health, which engages African and Caribbean people who work in barber shops and hair salons to deliver HIV/AIDS information through casual conversation with their customers. This project is successful in reaching individuals often missed by traditional outreach.
  • ORCHID, ASIA (Asian Society for the Intervention of AIDS), a peer-led outreach program for Asian women working as sex workers in massage parlours in and around Vancouver. The coordinator has successfully managed to build relationships with over 35 massage parlours and offer services with the help of peers and volunteers.
  • Virgin Bathhouse Tours, ACT (AIDS Committee of Toronto), is a creative response to HIV prevention among men who recently identified as gay or bisexual and who expressed interest in visiting a bathhouse. Each "tour" includes an educational workshop and a tour of two local bathhouses, empowering participants to negotiate safer sex in bath houses.
  • Overdose Prevention Project, Streetworks, which aims to prevent death in the event of an overdose. The program trains people who use opiates and people in their social networks to recognize the signs of drug overdose and to respond by administering artificial respiration and naloxone, supporting people who use drugs to become active in their own care and the care of the people in their community.

See the full Programming Connection catalogue.

Christie Johnston is the coordinator of community prevention programs at CATIE. She holds a Masters degree in anthropology and international relations. Before joining CATIE, Christie worked on a number of community-based research and knowledge exchange projects at the Ontario HIV Treatment Network (OHTN), AIDS Committee of Toronto (ACT) and abroad, and acted as volunteer program coordinator for the AIDS 2006 Local Host Secretariat.

Don Bapst is a writer and researcher for the Programming Connection at CATIE. He holds a Master's of fine arts in creative writing. He is also a novelist and filmmaker.

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This article was provided by Canadian AIDS Treatment Information Exchange. It is a part of the publication Prevention in Focus: Spotlight on Programming and Research. Visit CATIE's Web site to find out more about their activities, publications and services.
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