Prevention in Focus

Fall 2015 

The Programming Connection: Programs and resources

Immunodeficiency Clinic

The Immunodeficiency Clinic (IDC) is a comprehensive primary care clinic for people living with HIV/AIDS. Its services include individualized psychosocial support and case management, mental health and addictions counselling and treatment, hepatitis C care and treatment, and HIV primary care. The clinic also offers a community kitchen. Patients are encouraged to treat the clinic as their space and are free to drop in whenever they want to.

The clinic’s patients have access to family physicians who are trained to provide primary care to people living with HIV, registered nurses, social workers, an addictions counsellor, a psychologist, pharmacists, a dietitian and peer navigators. The clinic is designed to be low barrier so that the complex needs of patients can be met. Patients can often see multiple care and support providers in one visit on a drop-in basis or by appointment.

Maximally Assisted Therapy Program

The Maximally Assisted Therapy (MAT) program provides access to antiretroviral therapy and adherence support in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. MAT is designed to be a low-barrier, one-stop health resource for people living with HIV; in addition to delivering HIV treatment, the program provides tailored treatment, clinical care and supports for its members that address their chronic and acute healthcare needs.

Most of MAT’s members experience complex health needs, including severe mental health issues and addictions, and face multiple barriers to accessing and adhering to HIV treatment.  MAT minimizes these barriers through a multidisciplinary approach to health. The team includes a social worker, community liaison workers, nurses and an on-site clinical pharmacist. The program is open seven days and clinical services are offered to MAT clients in the morning. Since its inception, MAT has provided outreach to its members in the afternoon.

TAHAH: Towards Aboriginal Health and Healing Program 

Towards Aboriginal Health and Healing (TAHAH) is a clinical and outreach-based program that supports indigenous clients to stabilize and improve their overall health. For clients who are not on HIV treatment or able to adhere to it, the program helps them stabilize factors that affect their ability to consider, start and adhere to treatment. This support, treatment and care program works with extremely marginalized First Nation people living with HIV in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver.

The TAHAH program is offered by multidisciplinary team, including nurses, an Elder, an intensive case manager and peer community health advocates. The peers are trained First Nation people living with HIV from the community, who help engage and support TAHAH clients.

The TAHAH program employs a holistic model of care that integrates care for the physical, spiritual/traditional, mental/emotional and social needs of their clients and staff. Program staff do not simply provide basic medical care and HIV treatment; they also recognize the power of music and art; the need for food, housing and sleep; and the need for comprehensive, individualized addiction treatment when treating HIV and other chronic and debilitating diseases.

STOP Outreach Team

The STOP Outreach Team is an interdisciplinary team of nurses, nurse educators, outreach workers, social workers, and peers all working with the part-time support of a physician. The team’s mandate is to expand low-barrier HIV testing services and to improve engagement in HIV treatment, care and support for some of the most marginalized people in Vancouver. This clinical outreach team is a bridge to established HIV services across the city of Vancouver rather than the final destination for clients. The team uses a holistic model of care, which includes a person’s physical, mental and social needs.    

The team improves linkages between services that already exist in the community by offering intensive case management for clients to help them navigate the system. This support may only last a few weeks and includes referrals and accompaniment to culturally appropriate services, or it may last longer and provide intensive case management for people with complex barriers to accessing healthcare.