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About Community Connection

Women value and need community connection to be healthy, safe and well, reduce HIV risk, and foster positive health outcomes.

Women who face structural discrimination identified the importance of spaces to share experiences, resources, knowledge and support with one another. This was heard widely amongst Black and Indigenous women, drug using communities, women living with HIV, and those who have experienced violence. Listening, empathy, and authenticity were identified as paramount, as was valuing women’s expertise and leadership to build relevant programs and increase trust.

71% of women interviewed during WHAI’s community consultations indicated that they have not had (or only somewhat had) support for their social and emotional needs (n=134).

WHAI’s Community Consultations 2021/2022.

49.9% of the Cis and Trans women who participated in the OHTN Cohort Study 2022 survey reported feeling isolated from others (n=459).

Unpublished OHTN Cohort Study, data obtained from the Ontario HIV Treatment Network (2022).

What is WHAI doing?

Moving forward, WHAI is committed to community development work that aims to foster these valuable spaces and recognizes the importance of community connection to women’s lives and health. Work in this area may include:

  • Building capacity among community organizations and networks to foster peer-led spaces for women to support each other, share experiences and knowledge with each other, linking to HIV prevention, care and support, and building community connectedness
  • Facilitating communication between community organizations to bolster warm referrals and wrap around supports for women living with HIV and face structural risk factors related to HIV
  • Working with women and community partners to understand cultural relevance and awareness in programming, and in building open and inclusive spaces.

"Wellness requires connection to others, like really connecting with people and being part of a community.”

— Community voice from Kingston

“Promote through people with lived experience- This is how it changed my perspective. Talking to women in community and hearing about their lives. Seeing healthy POZ women- I learned best from talking to POZ women.”

— Community voice from Thunder Bay

Toolkit, WHAI Resource

Women, HIV & Stigma: A Toolkit for Creating Welcoming Spaces

This toolkit provides practical tips, tools and strategies to help community organizations build welcoming spaces.

Art Project, Toolkit, WHAI Resource

Love Positive Women Implementation Guide

An implementation guide for the global Love Positive Women project that demonstrates love and care for women living with HIV.