HIV/AIDS and the Law

Project Name

Supporting our Community: Our Health Our Laws

Project Partners

Lead Agency: People to People Aid Organization (P2P)
Legal Partner: HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario (HALCO)

Project Summary

P2P is a grassroots community organization working with the Ethiopian community in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). The training for this Connecting Project focuses on community workers, faith leaders, and community leaders. The training will be provided through face-to-face workshops for front line workers and traditional coffee ceremonies for community leaders.

Legal Topics for Training

The training will focus on HIV/ AIDS and the law. In particular:

  • the implications of HIV/ AIDS status in relation to immigration law and process
  • the circumstances under which non-disclosure of HIV status is a criminal offense
  • the human rights protections available for people living with HIV/ AIDS

Target Audience

This project is targeted at the Ethiopian community in the GTA.

Key Activities

The first part of the project will be training for faith leaders and community volunteers. This training will be provided through coffee ceremonies. Coffee ceremonies are a traditional form of discussion and information-sharing in the Ethiopian community. This format was chosen because it is a comfortable and familiar way of talking about complex community issues, such as HIV/ AIDS.

The second part of the project will be a series of training workshops for community workers. These workers will include youth workers, settlement workers, health care workers, and employment and social service workers.

Need for Training

Many members of the Ethiopian community in Canada speak little English or French, and are often unable to access information on the law. Education on this issue has also focused mainly on HIV/ AIDS awareness and prevention, and there has been very little focus on the legal implications of being a person with HIV/ AIDS. This Connecting Project responds to this need by training front line workers and community leaders in important issues related to HIV/ AIDS and the law.

Innovative Approach

This project is innovative because it will employ a unique and culturally-based way of training community leaders; the coffee ceremony. Traditionally, the ceremony was a “buddy system” among women. It created an intimate social space for them to share their problems, fears, and concerns away from their husbands. Now, coffee ceremonies are no longer only used by women. They are an effective way to teach adults because they promote interaction, sharing of experience and knowledge, and active involvement and ownership of the learning process.