HIV stigma can be more harmful than the disease itself. Is it possible to eradicate this social menace or is it here to stay? Tune in to find out as host James Watson chats with his guests about the impact of HIV stigma and how community-based research is making strides to weaken its grip.
First up, James chats with Dr. Sean Rourke, a Clinical Neuropsychologist and Scientist with the MAP Centre for Urban Health Solutions at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, about the Canadian HIV Stigma Index research study. He then sits down with Brittany Cameron, a powerful champion in the fight against HIV stigma. Brittany is an HIV-positive mother of three, an LGBTQ ally, and human rights activist.
Our episode guests
Dr. Sean Rourke
Scientist, Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, St. Michael’s Hospital & Professor of Psychiatry, University of Toronto
Sean is the Nominated Principal Investigator for the HIV Stigma Index study in Canada. He is a Clinical Neuropsychologist and Scientist with the Centre for Urban Health Solutions at St. Michael’s Hospital and a Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto. He is also the Director of two national centres funded by Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR): the CIHR Centre for REACH in HIV/AIDS, and the CIHR Community-Based Research Collaboration Centre for HIV.
When you bring the data together with those stories and the human experience, I think it’s what we need to change stigma and discrimination for HIV.
An HIV-positive mother, wife, LGTBQ ally and human rights activist
Brittany is an HIV Positive Mother, Wife, LGTBQ Ally, and Human Rights Activist. In addition to being a loving mother to three children ages eleven, seven and six, Brittany is in a committed long term relationship with her partner who is HIV Negative. Brittany is a Graduate of The Positive Leadership Development Institute (PLDI), a member of the Turning to One Another Network (TTOA), a Women’s Representative on the Provincial Women and HIV Initiative (WHAI) Ontario Women’s Working Group and is a Member of The Canadian #UequalsU Steering."
For me it was about taking my power. The reason I live openly with HIV is because if I don’t keep it a secret, then it’s not someone else’s secret to tell.
Sean Rourke is an accomplished Scientist with the MAP Centre for Urban Health Solutions at St. Michael’s Hospital and a Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto. As the Director of two national research centers, he also oversees the HIV Stigma Index study in Canada. Developing strong relationships with the HIV community is crucial to successful outcomes, so Dr. Rourke partners closely with community leaders to make certain the right research questions are asked for the work to have real life impact.
Acknowledging the power of personal stories of HIV stigma and resiliency in the fight against HIV, Sean seeks to bring stories together with data from the HIV Stigma Index study. This work is taking shape on The Positive Effect website.
Brittany is a LGBTQ+ ally, a human rights activist, a wife, a loving mother to three children, and is living with HIV. In this episode she discusses her first interactions with HIV stigma and the challenges she experienced within her own community and on social media.
It’s important for Brittany to take her own power back and create opportunities for conversation and education. She points out that it’s possible to change people’s attitudes, but not in every case. As a person in a serodiscordant relationship, Brittany talks about the power of living the U=U (Undetectable= Untransmittable) message and the importance of being able to carry the message forward.