The Toronto People With AIDS Foundation exists to promote the health and well-being of all people living with HIV/AIDS by providing accessible, direct, and practical support services.
Statement of Philosophy
People living with HIV/AIDS play a crucial role in the governance and operation of the Toronto People With AIDS Foundation, but, most important, are its heart and soul. Although PWA seeks supportive partnerships in support of fulfilling its Mission, its response to HIV/AIDS is, more than anything else, inspired by the voices and experience of people living with HIV/AIDS.
- largest direct service provider for people living with HIV/AIDS in Canada
- first agency to offer short-term compassionate access to HIV treatments in Canada
- first agency to offer financial assistance to augment medical and supplementary therapies costs in Toronto
- founding partner of the only free, PHA Naturopathic Clinic in North America
- Co-Lead agency in the only PHA designated meal delivery program in Toronto
- founding and Sponsor agency of the Community Summer Picnic for PHAs
- offering the only Toronto food bank meeting the specific needs of PHAs including innovative partnerships with other ASOs
- providing leadership to the Toronto HIV/AIDS Network at the Steering Committee, Working Group, Co-Chair and Sponsor agency level
- established the first, Peer Leader Initiative Group in Ontario (Canada?) to support and develop PHA peer leaders with specific programming ideas
- developed ground-breaking POZ Prevention Sexual Health materials for gay men living with HIV/AIDS and a manual for the health care providers who care for them (these will be updated and printed nationally in partnership with CATIE)
Since 1987, PWA has been helping men, transmen, transwomen, women and children living with HIV/AIDS. Our response is inspired by the voices and experiences of people living with HIV/AIDS. In the Fiscal year 2009/2010 at PWA we:
- Provided approximately 103,246 services to 10,363 individuals
- including 41,659 significant & unique practical services
- and 61,460 referral, information and outreach services to 2,887 individuals;
- Registered 408 new clients;
- Helped 363 people get access to HIV medications;
- Provided financial assistance to 986 clients;
- Provided Essentials Market (food bank) access 7,000 times;
- Provided 6,137 meals to PHAs through the Food for Life home delivery meal program;
- Delivered 9,974 Health Promotion services (including naturopathy, massage and acupuncture);
- Provided 5,272 sessions of Benefits and Assistance case management to PHAs;
- Delivered 210 presentations to 7,888 people through PWA’s Speakers Bureau volunteers telling their stories of living with HIV;
- Very gratefully had volunteers provide over 43,508 hours supporting program and service delivery.
- PWA is proud of its roots in the gay and queer community. We continue to provide services to a majority of white gay men and have also developed new programs to respond to the needs of diverse communities. Community-specific programming is offered to respond to ethno racial, gender, sexual orientation, cultural, and economic diversity. Our staff, Board and volunteers reflect this diversity.
- We have responded to this diversity with increased community partnerships, interpretation services being available in over 84 languages by phone or in person, staff and volunteer training, community development partnerships and translation of key agency materials into French and Spanish.
It is estimated that over 15,000 people are living with HIV in Toronto since 1981. Of these, approximately one third do not know that they are HIV positive.
"Chronic Manageable Disease"?
While treatment options have improved, there remains still, unfortunately, no cure. The challenges facing people living with HIV are numerous and complex: episodes of illness, numerous life transitions, discrimination, financial difficulties, social isolation, side effects from medications and long term effects from the virus - to name but a few.
GIPA (Greater Involvement of People Living with HIV/AIDS)
- PWA recognizes and values the important contribution people infected and affected by HIV/AIDS have on the response to the epidemic.
- Meaningful involvement of PHAs at all levels of PWA is essential to our ability to provide services and to making a positive difference.
As part of implementing the strategic plan for the Toronto People With AIDS Foundation (PWA), our 2009/2010 and 2010/2011 goals are based on the following strategic directions to help us make a positive difference in the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS:
- We will continue to be an Affirming Connection Place - and will strengthen this role with peer-to-peer programs, language accessibility, learning programs for clients, and new social spaces.
- We will sharpen our role as the Point of Access to the complex network of support for people living with HIV and AIDS by providing clients with 1) information about what support is available, 2) the means to access it, and 3) support to navigate key sources for basic needs like income support and access to treatment.
- We will continue to provide Practical Support Services - food, income support, access to medication and health promotion services – and to provide immediate crisis support.
Programs & Services
PWA’s Food Programs assist people living with HIV/AIDS (PHAs) to get the nutrition their bodies need.
Essentials Market (food bank)
- staple food items
- Family food Boxes
- special diets
- baby items
- pet food
Food for Life Home Meal Delivery Program
The Health Promotion program offers services that promote the physical, social and emotional well-being of our clients and responds to the social isolation and poverty experienced by many PHAs.
- Complementary Therapies
- Harm Reduction Programs
- Social Programming
- pet care program
- Holiday programs
- theatre access
- summer picnic
- Community Naturopathic clinic
- Vitamin supplements
Income SupportIncome Support programs offer support around the financial challenges many people living with HIV/AIDS struggle with at various times in their lives.
- Benefits and financial counselling
- Financial assistance for uninsured medical costs
- Return to work consultations
- Advocacy to government assistance programs
- Referrals and basic needs counselling
The Treatment Access Program provides information and support to assist people living with HIV/AIDS to access the medications and treatment care they need.
- Drug Coverage
- Medical Care
- Medical Marijuana
People living with HIV/AIDS can get important information on the treatments and resources available.
- Treatment Topic bulletins
- Treatment information booklets
- Treatment consultations
POZ prevention programming is conducted by a diverse team of gay male PHAs whose activities increase capacity for PHAs around engagement in their sexual health decisions, delaying disease progression and supporting HIV prevention efforts.
- POZ Prevention materials and information
- Peer consultations
- Workshops and presentation
- Community outreach activities
The Speakers Bureau involves PHAs in educating the public about living with HIV/AIDS myths, stigma and promoting HIV prevention.
Misc Facts and Figures
Characteristics of client population
- Recent medical trends have redefined the effects poverty has on those living with HIV/AIDS. People are living longer, but many are living longer in poverty with greater and more complex needs.
- While our client base becomes more diverse, the basic needs are often consistent. Financial hardship and the resulting devastating effect on an individual’s health, continues to be a critical factor in many of our clients’ lives. These stresses along with complex health concerns, mental and emotional health issues and existing stigma and discrimination impact a client’s ability to meet their basic needs.
- People living with HIV/AIDS also experience social isolation caused by multiple forms of discrimination. All people living with HIV/AIDS experience the stigma of being HIV positive. A common experience is the rejection by family, friends and cultural communities. Social isolation from these groups means that people living with HIV/AIDS loose traditional caregivers and support networks, making them face HIV, seemingly, alone. The HIV stigma is further compounded by the many other forms of discrimination people living with HIV/AIDS face – homophobia, racism, sexism and discrimination based on immigration status. These many forms of discrimination further isolate people living with HIV/AIDS.
Food Programs - Research
- According to the 2007 provincial Positive Spaces, Health Places study, more than one of every 2 people living with HIV in the GTA has difficulty buying food or clothing – compared to 1 in 10 in the general population.
- Nutrition has long been cited as a key component to long-term survival. Yet hunger and malnutrition plague the Toronto HIV/AIDS community. Early estimates suggest that approximately 250 – 300 people living with HIV/AIDS in Toronto suffer from hunger and malnutrition – anecdotally, we know this number to have increased drastically. Hunger and malnutrition weaken the body’s ability to fight HIV/AIDS and render people vulnerable to the ravages of the virus.
Due to a variety of factors, including the episodic health issues and the resulting inability to work consistently, many people living with HIV/AIDS in Canada live below the poverty line.
Last Updated on Thursday, 21 April 2011 20:24