SFU Student Social Innovation Fund supports Life & Love After HIV

The SFU Student Social Innovation Fund, a collaboration between RADIUS and Embark, provides project funding of up to $1000. The next funding deadlines are January 12th and February 16th.
The first funded project for our 2015-6 funding cycle is Life & Love After HIV, a project that brings together SFU researchers and community activists striving to normalize sex and intimacy for women after HIV. Through positive and respectful research, support, education, and advocacy that moves beyond an emphasis on safe sex and embraces the possibility of fulfilling sexual experiences and relationships, this project is a social movement to support the realization of sexual health and rights among women living with HIV everywhere.
The project team writes:
Sexuality and relationships are a fundamental part of being human and living a full life for many individuals. A diagnosis with a chronic illness such as HIV can have a significant impact on sex and intimacy. Over 17.5 million women globally and 16,600 in Canada are living with HIV. While women who are taking HIV medications are essentially non-infectious and can expect a normal life expectancy, recent research by the SFU-affiliated Canadian HIV Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health Cohort Study (CHIWOS) has shown high rates of sexual inactivity and dissatisfaction among women living with HIV in Canada as well as significantly lower overall quality of life compared with the general population of women. This is related to the fact that HIV remains highly stigmatized and criminalized in society, creating barriers to dating, disclosure, and the pursuit of love. The time for change is now.
We are a community of researchers, advocates, and women living with HIV that strive to normalize sex and intimacy for women after HIV. Our immediate team includes three SFU PhD students doing empirical research related to HIV, women’s sexual health and gendered issues (Allison Carter, Sophie Patterson, Kate Salters), three HIV activists leading social change in their communities (Valerie Nicholson, Margarite Sanchez, Kath Webster), an Assistant Professor at SFU and Canada Research Chair in Sexual and Reproductive Health (Angela Kaida), and our amazingly talented website consultant (Fernando Prado). Through our work on CHIWOS, we are also backed by more than 200 diverse stakeholders across Canada who are dedicated to advancing the health and well-being of women living with HIV.
With support from a Social Innovation Seed Grant from RADIUS and Embark and informed by a combination of lived experience with HIV and PhD-level research, we aim to be the go-to information source for sex and relationships after HIV, and plan to launch www.lifeandloveafterhiv.ca later this year.