Chee Mamuk: Working with First Nations to increase HIV testing
Northern BC communities are benefitting from the provincial Chee Mamuk Next Steps project, which has a mandate to provide culturally appropriate, community-based HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infection education and training to Aboriginal communities.
Funded by the Provincial Health Services Authority’s STOP HIV/AIDS program, the Next Steps project has operated throughout fall 2011, providing HIV education and training support to five health care teams in the North: one in Haida Gwaii, two located near Prince George, one near Hazelton and one near Terrace.
The five teams serve a total of 17 First Nations communities, with 200 to 500 people in each community. A total of $1,000 has been provided to each community to support implementation of awareness and testing plans.
The Next Steps project has three components: an introductory community visit; one training session; and a post-training visit. The program’s key objective is to increase HIV testing throughout BC’s North. Chee Mamuk representatives, led by Amanda Porter, Aboriginal Nurse Educator, have conducted community visits and training with each of the teams, assessing various HIV/AIDS awareness activities and evaluating how they can lead to community readiness for HIV testing. Chee Mamuk also helps develop culturally appropriate educational programs, information materials or activities, and also provides referrals and consultation.
With the training completed, each health care team has developed a detailed plan for their testing program, with Porter and her team helping them to navigate hurdles such as how to ensure confidentiality of test results in small communities; developing referral pathways; and securing more local resources for the on-site nurses.
The communities must also decide on the timeframe to implement HIV testing. Additional follow-up activities in the communities include women’s wellness nights, as well as home parties, where information on testing can be presented to large or small groups.
Porter and her team are also encouraging community representatives to make to-do lists for anything that needs to be put in place so that their testing project can be successfully implemented.
The Chee Mamuk Next Steps project runs until March 2013. For information, contact Porter at 604-790-2503.