Programming Connection

Policy & Practice Toolkit for Ontario AIDS Service Organizations on Clients’ HIV Disclosure Decisions and Process 

Ontario Organizational Development Program (OODP)
Ontario
2016

What is the program?

The Policy & Practice Toolkit for Ontario AIDS Service Organizations on Clients’ HIV Disclosure Decisions and Process (“the toolkit”) is a resource designed to help community-based HIV organizations support client disclosure decision-making. It guides users through disclosure policy development and practice. The toolkit, which consolidates knowledge and resources related to disclosure support from literature and practice, was developed by the Ontario Organizational Development Program (OODP) with funds from the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

The toolkit is made up of two distinct but connected components:

  1. Policy templates, which can inform the creation or revision of governance/board policy and operational/staff policy
  2. Checklists to help organizations work through policy development/revision and practice change

This toolkit promotes neither disclosure nor non-disclosure of HIV status and it does not provide legal advice to agencies. Instead, it is meant to support organizations as they consider their position on, and their role in, supporting disclosure planning, discussion and decision-making among people living with HIV.

It also provides guidance for organizations on managing risk, covering such topics as how to communicate contentious issues around disclosure and how to provide support to staff who engage in disclosure discussions with clients. The toolkit also encourages agencies to consider how to handle, in policy and practice, providing support for people to whom a disclosure is made. Users of the toolkit are prompted to ask critical questions:

  • Does your agency actively support the person to whom the disclosure is made?
  • Does your agency refer this person out to other services?

By working through key questions from the toolkit, organizations can reflect on how they support disclosure decision-making and action and can act on any gaps they find.

In addition to the policy templates, OODP chose to include a component on practice (included in a section called “Program Standards” and in the checklist), which is unusual for a policy tool. This was done to help organizations operationalize their policies.

The mandate of the OODP is to strengthen the capacity of HIV organizations and programs in Ontario. The goal is to help local HIV programs to determine their direction and to take responsibility for their own organizational development. The OODP is funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and the Public Health Agency of Canada.