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Social work grad presents his research at international AIDS2018 conference

Activist Christian Hui asked how inclusive HIV services are and here’s what he found
By: Dana Yates
July 24, 2018
Christian Hui

Photo: Social work grad Christian Hui’s research suggests that AIDS service organizations must learn how to support marginalized groups such as racialized newcomers and transgender populations. Photo: Jaime Hogge.

AIDS2018 is the biennial global conference on science, research, advocacy and human rights related to the AIDS epidemic. And at this year's event, currently underway in Amsterdam, a Ryerson University alumnus is on hand to present his research to an international audience.

Christian Hui, social work ’16 and master of social work ’17, is disseminating the findings of his major research paper (MRP), a key component of Ryerson's graduate-level social work program. His paper, which was supervised by Samantha Wehbi, social work professor and associate dean of student affairs at Ryerson’s Yeates School of Graduate Studies, is entitled AIDS in Action: A New Movement Led by Canadians Living with HIV and its Implications on Critical Anti-Oppressive Social Work Practice., external link

An HIV-positive activist, Hui is co-founder of the Canadian Positive People Network (CPPN), an independent organization that fights stigma and gives voice to communities affected by HIV and HIV co-infections, such as hepatitis C. Hui’s research shows that Canada's response to HIV has not fully considered the changing experiences, needs and challenges of people living with HIV-AIDS (PHAs).

“As both a service user and service provider, I know accessing appropriate HIV-related services for PHAs can be difficult due to systemic and structural barriers,” Hui said in an interview before travelling to the Netherlands. “PHAs should be the ones to inform the HIV agenda and not just be passive receivers of services.”

To understand how the now three-year old CPPN can thrive and best serve its community, Hui interviewed five HIV-positive activists who represented a cross-section of Canadians. Their backgrounds differed, but they offered the same message: a renewed AIDS response must adopt a positive people-centred approach and achieve equity.

"Aside from providing care with the human touch," said Hui, "AIDS service organizations need to create safe spaces, become inclusive, and learn how to make room and support the agendas of marginalized groups such as racialized newcomers and transgender populations."

Hui will discuss these and other findings during a poster presentation at AIDS2018. “I am looking forward to the dialogue with a global audience of PHAs, activists, researchers, scientists, academics and policy makers,” he said.

Earlier this week, Hui gave an oral presentation on a panel discussion about activism and equity during the fourth annual International Conference on the Social Sciences and Humanities in HIV, one of the official precursors of AIDS2018. Finally, at the Canadian Pavilion, as part of his commitment to the Truth and Reconciliation process, Hui will present his MRP as a mainstream settler researcher and engage delegates to brainstorm ways to walk alongside Indigenous people in the HIV response.

While a Ryerson student, Hui received a Canadian Institutes of Health Research Frederick Banting and Charles Best Canada Graduate-Master’s Scholarship and a Ryerson Graduate Development Award. Today, he is a steering member of the global Undetectable = Untransmittable campaign, and in September, will become a community investigator with the Canadian HIV Observational Cohort.

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