What’s Online Connec+?
For PLHIV, feeling isolated is common due to the stigma surrounding the virus, so establishing connections to peers can provide emotional support, while breaking down loneliness and segregation. The group is the first of its type in BC to be affiliated with an HIV/AIDS service organization, and will provide HIV education, support and community referrals to people across the province that might otherwise be unable to access these key services.
How is it delivered?
Online Connec+ will be facilitated by Positive Living BC’s Peer Navigators. A Peer Navigator is an HIV-positive person who helps PLHIV develop HIV self-management strategies and gain knowledge. Peer Navigators are trained and educated on health issues surrounding HIV/AIDS, self care, safer sex, sexually transmitted infections, and disease progression.
Says program leader Michael Crate, “Online Connec+ was started as a natural extension of the Peer Navigator program. The group will be an open format meeting. We will talk about what is currently going on for participants in relation to their HIV diagnosis. This might include health, treatment or self-care issues, stigma, isolation, disclosure, or dating. Peer Navigators will be there to facilitate the group, or do one-on-one counseling.”
Notes Elgin Lim, Positive Living BC’s manager of programs and services, “Living with HIV can be isolating, particularly in smaller communities. Online Connec+ can help people feel less alone, allow people to share experiences, and provide an opportunity to make new connections with other people living with HIV, no matter where they are in the province.”
Online Connec+ is open to anyone living with HIV in BC. All genders, sexualities and ages are welcome. The group will meet twice a month on Monday night from 6:30 pm to 8 pm.
For more information or to participate, call Positive Living BC’s toll-free number 1-800-994-2437 and leave a confidential voicemail, or email Michael Crate.