For the past several years, we have hosted a People Living with HIV (PLWHIV) Forum which brings together persons living with HIV in the movement to help review CAS’ work for the year and to set directions for the future.
The 2017 Forum, held from June 6th to the 9th in Regina, Saskatchewan, brought together about 70 people from several key population groups from across the country who are particularly affected by HIV — including women, Indigenous, African-Caribbean Black, MSM, users or ex-users of drugs, heterosexual, trans, aging and youth. This diverse group of people had a combined 815 years of lived experience with HIV — yet about 30% of them had no previous or ongoing engagement with community-based HIV organizations.
This year CAS wanted to do things somewhat differently, particularly during the first day of the PLWHIV Forum. One of these changes was an Open Space Event on June 7th that aimed to empower participants and set a positive tone for subsequent days of the Forum — as well as providing vital intelligence on future directions for the HIV movement.
With the significantly changing landscape of the HIV movement, we wanted a better understanding from people with lived experience of their own changing needs and where we should be heading. Discussions were wide ranging — from how to combat stigma; to how to better engage youth; to how to connect better with community-based organizations; to how do we come together as a movement.
You can read more about this year’s Forum at Positive Lite.com: www.positivelite.com/by-author/editorial-authors/bob-leahy/4
So where do we go from here?
We heard that substantial change is needed — and that PLWHIV want to be involved in creating positive change to help us move forward.
To this end, each region at the 2017 Forum voted to elect a representative to sit on a GIPA Steering Committee to create a roadmap for the future. Assisted by a CAS employee, this Steering Committee will be inspired by the collective intelligence displayed during the Forum — aiming to design a practical roadmap to guide our movement for the months and years ahead to be produced around January 2018.
These are exciting and challenging times for our movement.
Stay tuned for more as events unfold.