ACT’s Current Research Activities
Reports from previous ACT research studies.
Research with a Purpose
What's In It For Me?
Gay Poz Sex
Employment Change and Health Outcomes (ECHO)
ACT Research Day
Facilitators and barriers to participation in HIV and health research
Protective Factors (Gay Strengths Study)
iSpeak: Heterosexual African, Caribbean and Black men and HIV
Supporting ACT staff with program monitoring and evaluation
Bathhouse Counselling Intervention
Preparing Toronto for PrEP: A community consultation
Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) with oral, daily tenofovir/emtricitabine (TDF/FTC, Truvada®) is a novel biomedical approach to HIV prevention shown in the iPrEx trial to be safe and efficacious in reducing HIV acquisition. It has recently been approved in the US. The project explores the potential for a PrEP demonstration project among gay and bisexual men in Toronto. This grant will address the relevant issues through four components: 1) validation of a published HIV risk assessment tool for gay/bi men in an analysis of behavioural risk data among these men undergoing HIV testing at Hassle Free Clinic; 2) a survey of these men about their opinions on PrEP; and, 3) focus groups with a sub-set of potential PrEP users and non-users to explore their opinions in greater detail; and finally, 4) a forum to discuss findings and their implications for the design of a Demonstration Project with the broader community. A key outcome will be the development of a proposal for such a PrEP project for gay and bisexual men in Toronto. This one-year study is funded through a Catalyst Grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and is led by Dr. Darrell Tan of St. Michael’s Hospital and the University of Toronto.
ACT health promotion priorities – stigma, mental health and HIV across the lifespan - are intended to guide and inform the direction and content of ACT’s programs and services over the course of the current Strategic Plan (2010-2015). In 2011, with funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), ACT initiated, Research with a Purpose, a research project to build ACT’s knowledge and evidence base about each priority area and facilitate evidence-informed program development.
Research with a Purpose included the production of a number of documents, including:
- · HIV Across the Lifespan: Synthesis Paper
· HIV and Mental Health: Synthesis Paper
· HIV-related Stigma: Synthesis Paper
· Research with a Purpose Interpretations: Stigma, Mental Health and HIV Across the Lifespan
· Stakeholder Report: Stigma, Mental Health, HIV Across the Lifespan
Click here for more information on this project, and to access our Research with a Purpose documents.
Long-term survivors: developing research to address the needs, challenges, and priorities of long-term survivors
As HIV/AIDS shifts from a progressive and terminal disease to a chronic and episodic illness, service providers and clinicians face challenges in understanding the changing needs of the diverse population of long-term survivors. This collaboration between the AIDS Committee of Toronto and Casey House Hospice will develop a knowledge base that can guide and support research and program development by identifying the multiple issues related to long-term survivorship of HIV/AIDS. The objectives of the project are to:
- undertake exploratory research on long-term survivorship of HIV/AIDS;
- engage long-term survivors in developing a community-based research process;
- develop a multi-stakeholder research team and agenda for future research; and
- undertake knowledge translation and exchange (KTE) activities to build understanding study findings and support program development
The methods will include: focus groups and interviews with long-term survivors, consultations with other stakeholders, and a literature review and environmental scan to assess the state of the relevant knowledge base and the program and service environment. In addition to developing relevant research, the project partners will also share the results a broad range of service providers to generate dialogue related to program, clinical care, and policy issues. This project is funded through a Catalyst Grant from CIHR.
What's In It For Me?
This project will support the development of research literacy and capacity for PHAs, with the long-term goal of enabling them to better engage in, direct, and critically examine knowledge production in the field of HIV/AIDS. The objectives of this project are to:
- learn from PHAs about their different experiences, interests, and questions related to HIV/AIDS research;
- develop, implement, and assess a curriculum and series of workshops that build research literacy among PHAs and can be shared with other organizations; and
- connect PHAs, community-based organizations, and HIV/AIDS researchers through their participation in the workshop series, and create a learning environment that allows for dialogue between service providers, researchers and PHAs.
The major project activities include: (1) development of the workshop curriculum based on focus groups with PHAs, consultations with researchers, and an environmental scan and literature search to ascertain models of similar initiatives and develop content for the curriculum; and (2) implementation and evaluation of a series of six workshops led by researchers or PHA with expertise and experience on the specific topics to be addressed. This initiative is funded through a Meetings, Planning and Dissemination grant from CIHR.
Gay Poz Sex
The Poz Prevention Project (GPS: Gay Poz Sex, Finding your own way) will develop an HIV prevention and sexual health promotion strategy for gay and bisexual HIV positive men in a sex positive and community-based research framework. We will develop a confidential, group-based, peer-led program that will support HIV-positive gay and bisexual men in making choices related to their sexual health, mental health, physical health and community’s health. The group intervention utilizes “motivational interviewing”, which is a client-centred approach to developing motivation to make changes in one’s life. We will evaluate this program to determine if it has positive effects in the community.
Employment Change and Health Outcomes (ECHO)
A community-based research study following 520 people living with HIV in Ontario over two years. The purpose of the study is to explore the relationship between employment and health in people living with HIV. ECHO asks participants to report their employment and health status through questionnaires administered face-to-face by peer research assistants in various AIDS service organizations (ASOs) across Ontario. Partnering ASOs include: AIDS Committee of Toronto, Toronto PWA Foundation, Bruce House, AIDS Niagara, Access AIDS Network, AIDS Committee of North Bay and Area, and AIDS Committee of Guelph and Wellington County. Qualitative interviews will also be conducted with 30 of the study participants in April 2011 to better understand the interaction between employment change and health. The study is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and led by the Ontario HIV Treatment Network.
ACT Research Day
ACT Research Day is an annual event for HIV/AIDS service providers, researchers, policy makers, and other community stakeholders. This event is aimed at developing community-based research capacity for front-line staff, and to stimulate community-based HIV knowledge transfer and exchange among researchers and service providers. ACT has organized and hosted the event annually since 2003. ACT Research Day 2011 will be held on May 26, 2011. A Steering Committee made up of ACT staff and other stakeholders plans and organizes the event. For more information see ACT Research Day.
- 1. understand the HIV-related needs, challenges and priorities of ACB heterosexual men, and possible strategies to address them;
2. understand the current program environment, identify gaps in the knowledge base, and determine research needs to support programs and policy;
3. develop a research team representing primary stakeholder interests;
4. develop further research to address the most pressing priorities and research gaps; and
5. initiate a process to strengthen program and policy responses related to ACB heterosexual men among ACCHO members.
The project activities include: focus groups with heterosexual ACB men and service providers who work with ACB communities; interviews with researchers; and a consultation that brings together all the above stakeholders to identify research and other strategies to address the needs, challenges and priorities. This project is funded by CIHR (Catalyst Grant) and the Social Research Centre in HIV Prevention (SRC).
Research and Program Development for ACT
The research and program development group are currently involved in multiple activities to support ACT staff with program planning, monitoring and evaluation.
Supporting ACT staff with a logic model approach to work planning
Three years ago program logic models (PLM) were initiated to upgrade program planning, monitoring and evaluating infrastructure at ACT. The research team continues to work with program staff to assist them in using the PLM template, identifying success indicators, incorporating monitoring and evaluating (M&E) activities into workplans, and designing and implementing M&E activities. Research staff support ACT staff by delivering workshops and other learning opportunities related to PLM.
Supporting ACT staff with program monitoring and evaluation (M&E)
The research team works with individual program staff to assist them in designing and implementing M&E activities. In addition, the research team designs and delivers workshops to improve research literacy among program staff (e.g., basic data collection and data management, how to read reviews, etc).
Bathhouse Counselling Intervention Evaluation
ACT, in partnership with McMaster University, CAMH, Ryerson University, and the M2Men network, is developing an evaluation and assessment of the Bathhouse Counselling Intervention, Towel Talk, a pilot counselling initiative funded by Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, AIDS Bureau, developed with the support of the M2Men network (M2Men is a Toronto-based network of front-line sexual health/HIV prevention education workers who work with gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men), and supervised through the AIDS Committee of Toronto.
Towel Talk places a counsellor in three of Toronto’s male bathhouses, in order to provide brief counseling sessions (15 to 30 minutes), as well as referrals to other health and support services, to bathhouse patrons. Towel Talk builds on current outreach programs, by increasing access to psycho-social counseling and other support and community service.
This study will evaluate the effectiveness of this intervention in order to determine the suitability of bathhouses for brief counselling sessions, as well as aid in the design and development of the pilot program