Programming Connection

Remote Outreach Project 

Blood Ties Four Directions Centre
Yukon
2010

What is the program?

The Remote Outreach Project is the abbreviated name for the Blood Ties Four Directions Centre’s Bringing the HIV Transmission Guidelines to Northern Remote Communities Project. This project delivers HIV- and hepatitis-C-related education and support (based on the Canadian AIDS Society’s HIV Transmission: Guidelines for Assessing Risk) to nine remote First Nations communities in the Yukon. It does so through structured workshops on transmission, education about the basics of HIV and hepatitis C, and informal conversations.

Originally, the program was designed as a way to support communities to address issues related to HIV and hepatitis C by offering education programs tailored to each community’s specific needs. The goal was that eventually members of each community would take on the role of HIV and hepatitis C educator to their fellow community members, based on the work that Blood Ties would do to build local capacity.

Through their initial outreach efforts, Blood Ties staff discovered that remote communities are often overburdened and under-resourced with multiple social and health-related challenges (low literacy, lack of housing and clean water, domestic violence, drug use, etc.), and thus often had little choice but to de-prioritize HIV and hepatitis C education. Furthermore, sexuality and sexually transmitted infections (including HIV and hepatitis C) were found to be highly sensitive topics for members of these communities and were not easily initiated directly by community leaders.

In this context, it became clear that a regionally and culturally specific interpretation of “community development” was required for remote communities with small populations and numerous social and health-related issues. By adjusting the program to allow for the Project Coordinator to return to each of the nine communities twice a year or more to deliver workshops and support, the Blood Ties staff was able to build the communities’ capacity to cope with HIV and hepatitis C more effectively than if the communities were asked to deliver programming themselves.