HIV In My Day

Within communities most impacted by the epidemic in Canada (e.g., gay men, Indigenous peoples, people of colour, women, people who use injection drugs), HIV/AIDS is both a historical experience of loss and community resilience, and an ongoing public health concern. Oral history offers a way of addressing persistent health challenges, not just by preserving the past, but by providing insight into how current prevention and treatment interventions can be reinvigorated.

HIV in My Day aims to collect oral history of the early years of British Columbia’s HIV/AIDS epidemic from long-term survivors and caregivers, with the end goal of sharing our findings with diverse community audiences. This knowledge translation and exchange with affected communities will help to preserve cultural memory of the early AIDS epidemic, promote much-needed cross-generational and cross-sector dialogue in the present, restore agency within HIV histories to people living with HIV, and contribute a more nuanced temporal lens to future health research, promotion, and care.

Thus far, our community-based team, including several peer researchers living with HIV has:

  1. Conducted 117 interviews with a diverse group of long-term survivors and caregivers across British Columbia;
  2. Produced an online, publicly accessible archive of interview recordings and transcripts available through the University of Victoria Libraries;
  3. Held community forums in Vancouver and Victoria to gather community input and share the main results of our research with affected communities;
  4. Published academic papers on HIV caregiving and inequitable care geographies, with additional analyses in development;
  5. Presented results at multiple conferences to both academic and community-oriented audiences;
  6. Adapted interview material and archival photos into a multimedia display that was presented at an arts-based event at SFU;
  7. Held an arts-based workshop and exhibition centring the voices and artistic creations of women living with HIV.

A verbatim theatre piece based on the interview material called “In My Day” is currently in development and will premiere at the Cultch in December 2022. Funding from the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research will support an intergenerational knowledge exchange event that will be held in conjunction with the play’s premiere. Additionally, our team is currently exploring funding opportunities to expand the project beyond British Columbia.

Partners: YouthCO HIV & Hep C Society, Vancouver Island Persons with AIDS Society

Qualitative: Oral History & Storytelling Interviews, Digital Archives, Arts-Based Knowledge Translation

Funder: Michael Smith Foundation for Health ResearchCanadian Institutes for Health Research, Vancouver Foundation

Current Status: Ongoing data collection and arts-based knowledge translation activities, digital archive available online.