First Nations health policy and funding: consequences for those living With HIV/AIDS
thesisposted on 11.06.2021, 18:42 by Sean A. Hillier
In 2014-2015 Indigenous Peoples represented 17.5% of all HIV infections in Canada, yet accounted for only 4.3% of the population. In 2008, Indigenous Peoples accounted for an estimated 3.2% of people living with HIV in Ontario, while comprising 2.4% of the population. From 2009 to 2011, 2.7% of new HIV diagnoses in Ontario were Indigenous Peoples, of whom 7.2% were women. This research study sought to assess the efficacy of funding for HIV/AIDS treatment, services, programming, and care within Ontario First Nations communities. This research will improve understanding of services available to people and communities affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The Indigenous based method of storytelling and freedom of information requests were used to capture data. Ontario First Nations people who were at least 16 years of age and living with HIV/AIDS (n=29) participated. Participants were asked five open-ended questions related to their use of and access to healthcare services. Stories were transcribed and analysed using NVivo. Transcriptions also form the bases of re-written first-person stories, detailing the life and experiences of the participants and their experiences of living with HIV/AIDS and accessing treatment, services, programming, and care. It was found that the federal government drastically underfunds HIV/AIDS treatment and services. This is given context by powerful stories of the impact limited funding has on Indigenous people living with HIV/AIDS. Participants experienced issues with access to care and supports with many forced to leave their northern communities, either permanently or temporarily, due to limited access to care. HIV-related stigma played a role in access to prevention, testing, and care. Participants indicated difficulties with HIV education either in understanding their own HIV status or in the lack of education within the broader community. Historical traumas (residential schooling and the 60s scoop) and discrimination were central themes to many stories, seriously affecting the lives of participants and their overall health outcomes. The dissertation/project culminates in a list of recommendations aimed at informing a process to improve access and quality of health care for Indigenous Peoples living with HIV/AIDS. Greater access to community-based, holistic care in northern First Nations communities is urgently required.