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New CMA course provides tools for Aboriginal health in HIV

Ottawa and Vancouver, April 18, 2012 – A new online course is being introduced to teach doctors in Canada about the social, cultural and historical frameworks for HIV health care in Aboriginal communities.

Ken Clement, Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network, says, “Aboriginal peoples in Canada are disproportionately impacted by HIV and face many negative social determinants of health. Poverty, racism and stigma are just some of the factors that impact overall health in the Aboriginal community.”The new accredited course is designed to improve front-line capacity for HIV diagnosis and treatment and provide cultural sensitivity training for family physicians and general practitioners. Titled “Community-based and culturally appropriate HIV and AIDS diagnosis and treatment,” the course is aimed both at doctors who work in rural and isolated settings and those in urban settings who see Aboriginal patients.

“This will be a tremendous opportunity for doctors from coast to coast to learn not just the medical specifics of diagnosing and treating HIV, but also the culturally appropriate means to diagnose and treat Aboriginal peoples,” said Dr. Sam Shortt, Director, Knowledge Transfer, Canadian Medical Association.

Aboriginal people, particularly women, continue to be over-represented in the HIV epidemic. While about four per cent of Canadians self-identify as Aboriginal, the Public Health Agency of Canada estimated that Aboriginal people comprised eight per cent of the population living with HIV in 2008. In addition, women represented half of all positive HIV test reports among Aboriginal people between 1998 and 2008, compared with one-fifth of reports among those of other ethnicities.

The Continuing Medical Education (CME) module is a joint effort by the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) and the CIHR Canadian HIV Trials Network (CTN) in consultation with subject-matter experts, including critical input from the Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network (CAAN). The CMA contracted Professional Development and Conferencing Services within the Faculty of Medicine at Memorial University of Newfoundland for instructional design, accreditation and evaluation.

The course is accessible to CMA members at www.cma.ca/cme. It will teach doctors how to diagnose and treat people living with HIV and AIDS; how to recognize social and physical barriers to care and describe supports available to those with HIV and AIDS and the at-risk population using a multidisciplinary model of health care services; and how to recognize diversity among Aboriginal communities and relate culturally aware and community-integrated health care models to their practices.

In fall 2010, the CTN and CAAN signed a memorandum of understanding to work together to increase awareness about the benefits of clinical trial participation and to promote research by Aboriginal persons, for Aboriginal persons. The CMA course grew out of concerns about the increasing number of Aboriginal people being diagnosed with HIV and the lack of knowledge among general practitioners about culturally appropriate treatment and care.

About the Canadian Medical Association
The Canadian Medical Association is the national voice of Canadian physicians. Founded in 1867, CMA’s mission is to serve and unite the physicians of Canada and be the national advocate, in partnership with the people of Canada, for the highest standards of health and health care. The CMA is a voluntary professional organization representing over 76,000 of Canada’s physicians and comprising 12 provincial and territorial medical associations and 51 national medical organizations.

www.cma.ca

About the Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network
CAAN is a national non-profit coalition of individuals and organizations that provides leadership, support and advocacy for Aboriginal people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS, regardless of where they reside. The philosophy of this agency is that all Aboriginal people deserve the right to protect themselves against infectious disease. Education and prevention is focused on empowerment, as Aboriginal people are encouraged to learn about the risks of HIV/AIDS and protect themselves accordingly. To provide Aboriginal people with accurate and up-to-date information about the nature of the disease, the risks of contracting it, and the issues of care/treatment and support for those infected is the challenge that CAAN employees and directors face each day of their involvement with the agency.

www.caan.ca

About the CIHR Canadian HIV Trials Network
The CIHR Canadian HIV Trials Network (CTN) is a partnership committed to developing treatments, vaccines and a cure for HIV and related co-infections through the conduct of scientifically sound and ethical clinical trials. We are committed to the pursuits of scientific excellence and ethical integrity in all undertakings. We are also dedicated to working in partnership with the international and national pharmaceutical industry, people living with HIV, researchers and physicians.

www.hivnet.ubc.ca

The course is accessible to CMA members at www.cma.ca/cme.

For further information:

Kevin Pendergraft
Manager, Communications
CIHR Canadian HIV Trials Network
Tel: 604-806-8379 / 1-800-661-4664
[email protected]