Programming Connection

Operation Hairspray 

Ottawa Public Health
Ottawa, Ontario

Lessons Learned

  • Training people to serve as HIV peer educators to their customers can reach communities underserved by more formal outreach efforts.
  • Strategically placing interesting or eye-catching resources printed with program information can generate customer interest in discussing HIV with peer educators.
  • Weekly follow-ups with peer educators to check on supplies provides staff with an opportunity to address their questions and assess the program’s effectiveness in each establishment.
  • Soliciting business owners’ participation is a critical first step in engaging employees to become peer educators.
  • A very casual, conversational approach to education integrated into a familiar activity such as visiting a barber/beauty shop is essential for maintaining the non-intrusive nature of the project in order to facilitate open discussions on HIV.