Exploring Social and Structural Contexts of HIV Vulnerability Among LGBTQ+ Youth in the Northwest Territories

Regions: North Slave Region, South Slave Region

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

Principal Investigator: Logie, Carmen (9)
Licence Number: 15673
Organization: University of Toronto
Licenced Year(s): 2015
Issued: May 19, 2015
Project Team: Sandy Little (Co-investigator, Aurora College), Gwen Healy (Co-investigator, Quajigiartiit Health Research Centre ), Candice Lys (Principal Knowledge User, Fostering Open eXpression among Youth), Iman Kassam (Collaborator, NWT Pride)

Objective(s): To explore the lived experiences of lesbian, gay, bi, transgender, queer and other sexually and gender diverse youth in Northwest Territories, with attention to social and structural contexts of sexual health and human immunodeficiency virus and sexually transmitted infection vulnerabilities.

Project Description: The research team will establish an interdisciplinary team of lesbian, gay, bi, transgender, queer (LGBTQ+) Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal youth, adult and allied researchers to generate knowledge on social contexts of human immunodeficiency (HIV) and sexually transmitted infection (STI) vulnerability among LGBTQ+ youth in Northwest Territories (NWT). The research team aim to: 1) Explore the lived experiences of LGBTQ+ youth in NWT, with particular attention to social and structural contexts of sexual health and HIV/STI vulnerabilities; 2) Implement body-mapping techniques as a tool of collaborative knowledge generation to understand social contexts, identities and factors influencing sexual health among LGBTQ+ youth in NWT; 3) Conduct knowledge translation and exchange, including a youth forum, report launch and art exhibit; 4) Develop a 2015 Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) community-based monitoring (CBR) Grant focused on LGBTQ+ youth health in NWT.

This project will build on fostering open expressions among youth (FOXY) research with young women in NWT to increase specific awareness of LGBTQ+ youth issues in NWT. Currently, this projcet works with adolescent women and young adults who identify as members of the LGBTQ communities to pilot test FOXY's project (body mapping).

The research team will conduct 3 interconnected project components. Phase 1: Key informant (KI) interviews with LGBTQ+ youth, community members, advocates and service providers in NWT to explore experiences of stigma, resilience, and HIV/STI vulnerabilities among LGBTQ+ youth in NWT. KI individual interview data will be collected using semi-structured, open-ended interview guides with 5-6 open-ended questions. The research team will use narrative thematic analysis to identify, analyze, and report themes (commonalities or differences) in the data. Phase 2: Body-mapping workshops with LGBTQ+ youth in Yellowknife and Hay River where participants will create body maps in a group setting and share body map narratives in in-depth individual interviews. Body-mapping illuminates the intersection of social contexts, identities and pluralistic representations of the self. There are 3 components of each body-map: a) a life size body map, b) a body map key, with descriptions of the meaning of the map’s components, and c) an oral narrative about the participant and their body-map. Analysis of body-maps involves assessing visual and oral narratives; oral narratives will be analyzed using the Biographical Narrative Interview method. Phase 3: Participatory action research to engage community stakeholders in knowledge translation and exchange, including an LGBTQ+ youth forum at NWT Pride 2015. Knowledge generated from KI interviews, body-mapping workshops and the knowledge mobilization activities will inform a 2015 CIHR CBR Grant application.

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

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 sexual gender minority (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 five 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). This report will also be distributed to communities that may show interest in the subject matter, as well as all participating communities. 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 and view the body maps. Third, body maps will be displayed in a local gallery in Yellowknife for public viewing (e.g. Artist Run Community Centre). Fourth, 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 further CIHR 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 May 20, 2015 to December 31, 2015.