Saskatchewan has some alarming statistics in harms from drug use. There were 92 confirmed and 199 suspected drug-related deaths in the first seven months of this year. Also, the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) transmission rate here is currently five times higher than the national average, and has been more than double the national average for more than five years. Project Reportneedles.ca, co-developed by the Eaton Lab at University of Regina and AIDS Programs South Saskatchewan Inc. (APSS) launched today in Regina. For the past two and a half years, APSS has been running a web-based app whereby the public can report exact locations of discarded needles in public spaces.With this information, needles can be safely collected and disposed of by APSS staff. Further, hotspots for needle use can be determined and harm-reduction interventions can be delivered in those areas. APSS staff plan to offer pop-up Naloxone trainings and support groups over the next two years to 50 community members each with the aim of promoting safer use practices and informing future harm-reduction initiatives. Eaton Lab will evaluate knowledge and behaviour change associated with these interventions, as well as the feasibility of a rapid assessment and response system.
Cognitive impairment commonly exists in individuals aging with HIV, which can create high levels of stress and anxiety for many.Social and psychological interventions may help to reduce symptoms associated with cognitive impairment and enhance quality of life for people aging with HIV.Such interventions are in early research and testing stages of development, which may be attributed to the diagnoses needed for HIV-Associated Neurocognitive Disorder (HAND) to qualify for clinical trials. To be diagnosed with HAND, many intensive, time-consuming tests take place, but many cases remain undiagnosed, misdiagnosed, or misclassified due to the limitations of the assessment process. Thus, a brief & low-barrier assessment process may be a way to resolve diagnosis concerns related to HAND. Such alternate screening may improve enrolment and completion of clinical trials by removing the barrier of excessive tests to diagnose HAND.This may widen clinical trial eligibility while still offering valuable insight into individuals’ cognitive health and wellbeing
Individuals may have cognitive challenges such as trouble remembering, learning new things, concentrating, or making decisions that affect their everyday life as a result of living and aging with HIV. This study looked at how group therapy may help reduce stress and anxiety associated with cognitive impairment for people aging with HIV. Research suggests that using a combination of intervention techniques like mindfulness and group therapy can result in better outcomes. Participants aging with the mild-to-moderate form of HIV-Associated Neurocognitive Disorder (HAND) were randomly assigned to two groups; Cognitive Remediation Group Therapy CRGT (Group 1) which had a combination of brain training activities and mindfulness-based stress reduction, or the Control Group (Group 2) of mutual aid. Among 40 participants, 15 replied, 12 recruited and engaged in the study, and 10 participants fully completed the study. Results showed statistically significant improvements in CRGT (Group 1) vs the Control Group (Group 2), and participants of CRGT (Group 1) continued to show improvements in stress and mindfulness after a 3-month follow up.
To read the full study, click here. For our latest study of CRGT, click here.
The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a complex and lifelong health condition that requires frequent medical treatment. HIV-positive peers have the potential to support people living with HIV who are hospitalized by improving the transition from hospital inpatient care to home. Recommendations and experiences of Peer Volunteers were reviewed to develop a training curriculum for peer support in complex HIV care.
A community-clinical partnership designed a peer intervention program for people living with HIV who were hospitalized, titled the ART of Conversation. Five Peer Volunteers delivered the program. Peers were matched with, and met with, a participant prior to discharge and frequent phone contact following discharge. The 4-day Peer Volunteer training supported skill building in active listening, structuring a call, use of self, boundaries, and facilitating program closure. Peer Volunteers were interviewed prior and post-match. Analysis reviewed Peer Volunteer preparedness and areas for program improvement.
Peers noted participants felt affirmed in their experiences, tracked goals and progress of participants, built rapport through personal experience disclosures, and completed closure tasks. Peers struggled to maintain emotional connections over the phone and were concerned when participants were non-responsive. The article discusses the training program pilot and recommendations for practice. It also includes the full Peer Support Volunteer Training Manual.
Doctoral education in social work is critical in nurturing new thought leaders, teachers, and researchers in this discipline. Canadian universities are increasing admissions for bachelor and masters level social work degree programs. This means doctoral programs are expanding to educate and train future social work faculty. Currently, research and scholarship on doctoral social work education is predominantly American, and no study has observed the state of the fourteen doctoral social work programs in Canada. This article looks at PhD social work student experiences in 2019-2020. Firstly, a student survey of 157 respondents indicated a) the quality of PhD social work programs in Canada was rated as “moderate”; and b) finances may be a barrier to academic success. Secondly, an an online survey with 69 respondents found that workshops significantly supported scholarship success – facilitating financial stability. This article provides a current picture of doctoral social work education in Canada, with recommendations for further research and education.