Programming Connection

Operation Hairspray 

Ottawa Public Health
Ottawa, Ontario

Why Was the Program Developed?

In 2006, Ottawa Public Health developed a pilot project to address the need for HIV/AIDS education among the city’s African and Caribbean communities, which it saw as a population disproportionately affected by HIV that had little to no culturally specific resources to address HIV prevention and support.

Inspired by news stories of pioneering outreach efforts in Thailand through which men receive condoms from local barber shops in their villages before venturing into cities, a Project Officer from Ottawa Public Health hypothesized that engaging African and Caribbean barber shops and hair salons in Ottawa to support HIV prevention efforts would be successful in reaching sometimes hard-to-reach groups of people. Ottawa Public Health brought together a Project Advisory Group to implement a pilot project to assess this theory.