Mapping social and structural contexts of HIV and STI vulnerability among LGBTQ+ youth in the Northwest Territories

Regions: North Slave Region

Tags: social sciences, sexually transmitted infection, youth, sexual health

Principal Investigator: Logie, Carmen (9)
Licence Number: 15558
Organization: University of Toronto
Licenced Year(s): 2015 2014
Issued: Nov 05, 2014
Project Team: Lia Ruttan (Community Collaborator, Aurora College), Candice Lys (Community Collaborator, FOXY (Fostering Open eXpression among Youth) ), Iman Kassam (Community Collaborator, NWT Pride)

Objective(s): The team is prepared to launch the first community based research collaboration on social and structural drivers of human immunodeficiency virus and sexually transmitted infection among a neglected population in Canada’s North: lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer and other sexually and gender diverse youth in the Northwest Territories.

Project Description: The research team is prepared to launch the first community based research (CBR) collaboration on social and structural drivers of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and sexually transmitted infection (STI) among a neglected population in Canada’s North: lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ+) and other sexually and gender diverse youth in the Northwest Territories (NWT). The objectives of this study are to: 1) Explore the lived experiences of LGBTQ+ youth in NWT, with particular attention to social and structural contexts of sexual health, HIV and STI knowledge, vulnerabilities and priorities; 2) Develop a deeper understanding of the social and structural drivers for increased risk of HIV and STI infection; 2). To contribute to knowledge that can inform health care services and HIV prevention programs and services that target LGBTQ+ youth in NWT, as well as inform future research of issues affecting the health of LGBTQ+ youth in northern Canada.

This project employs a qualitative approach informed by critical ethnography to understand the lived experiences of a) stigma and discrimination and b) resilience in order to better understand the social and structural contexts of HIV and STI vulnerability for LGBTQ+ youth in the NWT.

Key Informant Interviews: The research team will use purposive sampling to identify 6 community members, advocates, and service providers with knowledge of LGBTQ+ issues in NWT for key informant individual interviews. Individual interview data will be collected using semi-structured, open-ended interview guides with 5-6 open-ended questions, and these will last approximately 1- 1.5 hours. Interviews will be digitally recorded and transcribed. Interviews will explore experiences of LGBTQ youth, including stigma, resilience, and understandings of HIV/STI risk factors. For example, questions may include: i) What are attitudes like towards LGBTQ+ youth in your community? Towards HIV and STI? ii) What things may make LGBTQ+ youth vulnerable to HIV and STI infection in your community?

Individual Interviews with LGBTQ+ youth: For individual interviews with LGBTQ+ youth (18-29, Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal) in NWT (n=30), the research team will use purposive sampling to ensure inclusion of diverse sexual and gender minority (SGM) youth in the interviews. The research team will work with 3 groups of LGBTQ+ identified youth in NWT (n=30: 10 men who have sex with men, 10 women who have sex with women, and 10 transgender persons in each group). Individual participant interviews will last approximately 1- 1.5 hours. Participant interviews will be digitally recorded and transcribed.

The entire team is made up of local community collaborators from NWT. The team is includes individuals from the northern, Aboriginal, LGBTQ communities and thus represents and accounts for the interests of these groups as well.

Additionally, the potential direct benefits to community include addressing an important gap in knowledge with respect to the social and structural drivers of HIV and STI vulnerability among LGBTQ+ youth. The findings from this study can inform sexual health care and HIV/STI prevention programs to provide education and services relevant and appropriate to the needs of diverse SGM young men and women. The findings can also inform multi-level (individual, community, structural) sexual stigma reduction and HIV prevention interventions to promote sexual health for diverse SGM men and women, and work towards decreasing HIV and STI vulnerability.

There will be four main strategies for communication and dissemination of results. First, results will be developed into a community report. This report will be distributed to Aurora College as well as community groups (NWT Pride, It Gets Better Yellowknife, Hay River Pride). Second, a community forum will be held in Yellowknife in August 2015 for NWT Pride and service providers and SGM people will be invited to attend and discuss the results. Third, results will be developed into abstracts and manuscripts for publication (e.g. Canadian Medical Association Journal, Sexually Transmitted Infections, AIDS & Behavior) and conferences (e.g. Canadian Association for HIV Research). Finally, results will inform the Canadian Institute of Health Research grant proposals for the development of interventions to challenge sexual stigma and racism and to promote sexual health for diverse SGM youth living in Canada’s north.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from October 28, 2014 to December 31, 2014.