April 29, 2003
GAAP's research explores gender as a risk factor for HIV among youth in Canada and South Africa and focuses on developing gender-sensitive HIV/AIDS prevention programs. Although HIV/AIDS rates among youth are currently relatively low in Canada, a decade ago they were also low in some of the epidemic countries, said June Larkin, GAAP's principal investigator. "HIV rates are rising in youth -- and particularly in girls -- and we see youth as the best resource for changing the course of what's become a worldwide epidemic," she said.
The researchers' initial work drew on youth focus groups in Toronto and South Africa on issues related to HIV risk, but their approach also explores other participatory methodologies. GAAP recently sponsored a symposium at the University of Toronto called Taking Action that looked at ways for youth ages 16-25 to work together on arts-based HIV prevention strategies, with sessions on hip hop, graffiti, photography, drama and poetry. Taking Action was developed with guidance from a youth advisory board, and inspiration from a similar project launched in South Africa.
One of GAAP's goals is to connect youth in Toronto and South Africa through Web interaction. There are also plans with Professor Njoki Wane of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto to expand GAAP's research to Kenya. Making transnational links is important because forces of globalization in one place may have an impact on the risk of HIV/AIDS in another, Larkin said.
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