Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention
Shannon Ryan, Executive Director
Charitable number: 13221 9601 RR 001
About this organization
Founded in 1989, the Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention (Black CAP) continues to work under the guidance of its motto, “Because All Black People’s Lives Are Important”. This stands as a reminder of the importance of our Mission:
To reduce the spread of HIV infection within Toronto’s Black communities and enhance the quality of life of people living with or affected by HIV/AIDS.
History of Organization
Established in 1989, Black CAP is a non-profit, volunteer-based, community service organization. Since its inception, our agency has worked tirelessly to promote awareness and prevention of HIV/AIDS in Toronto’s Black African and Caribbean Canadian communities through education, community outreach programs and by offering support to people living with and/or affected by HIV/AIDS (PHAs). The incidence of HIV/AIDS is on the rise in Toronto’s Black communities, and issues such as HIV related stigma and discrimination, homophobia, anti-Black racism, immigration, criminalization, poverty, and other barriers to social inclusion, continue to present significant obstacles to members of our communities. As a result, we believe that our mission is more important than ever. At this time, Black, African and Caribbean people account for more than one-fourth of all new HIV infections in Toronto, in the early nineties we made up only one-tenth of new HIV infections.
Accolades and Accomplishments
Black CAP is very proud of the following accomplishments:
- Beneficiary of the 2010 Pride and Remembrance Association award
- Recipient of the Ontario Trillium Foundation Great Grant Award for Human and Social Services
- Staff recipient of the 2011 Vital People Award
- Staff and Board members awarded with the 2008 and 2009 Ontario AIDS Network's Honour Role Award
- Identified as one of Canada's Workplaces that Work by the HR Council of Canada
- In 2009, Black CAP celebrated its 20 years of programs and services for Toronto's Black, African and Caribbean communities
Black CAP is Canada’s largest Black AIDS service organization and we have worked to build services specific to our community/population for more than 20 years. We deliver a range of services to reduce the impacts of HIV/AIDS in Toronto’s Black communities. The agency has a staff team of about 20 who deliver a range of services to Black, African and Caribbean communities in Toronto. Our programs include:
Support & Settlement – Our support program services include:
- Counselling, workshops, assistance and advocacy for clients with HIV and provide financial, transportation and nutritional assistance
- Treatment and support groups for men and women living with HIV and hospital and house visits for people who are too sick to travel
- Support and accompaniment services in relation to health care and treatment, immigration, housing and other issues
- Information and referrals to other service providers and an Annual Healing Retreat and celebration of life event for people with HIV
- A settlement program for LGBT newcomers who are settling in Canada.
- An employment counselling programming for people living with HIV who are ready to return to work.
Outreach – Our Outreach and Education program increases knowledge of HIV/AIDS and gives people the tools to reduce the likelihood of HIV infection. Outreach and Education programs include:
- The delivery of workshops focused on HIV/AIDS, healthy sexuality and anti- homophobia training
- Distribution of condoms, safer sex kits and resources at community events, bars, barbershops, community centers, bathhouses, schools, etc.
- Mate Masie, a Kwanza and Yoga Youth Program focused on reducing the spread of HIV/AIDS in Black youth communities
Prevention – Our Prevention program develops new and innovative prevention models for Black, African and Caribbean people living in Toronto who are at risk for HIV. This department develops social marketing tools, such as the One Night, Your Choice or Think campaigns and websites, and also develops evidence-based interventions with at risk populations such as the Many Men, Many Voices (3MV) program intervention for young gay and bisexual Black men.
Youth Programming – The Roots of Risk (ROR) project is a community level HIV prevention campaign which uses a mix of evidence-informed approaches to provide information and support to Black youth living in Toronto. ROR uses a combination of the POL (popular opinion leader) model, creative social marketing methods, and youth engagement opportunities to deliver prevention education programming to Black youth at heightened risk for HIV and sexually transmitted infections in Toronto.
Many Men, Many Voices, more commonly known as 3MV, is a three-day, retreat-style workshop designed to build community and enhance self-esteem related to racial and sexual identity among young Black men in Toronto ages 16-29 who identify as gay, bisexual and/or transgender (GBT). The objectives of 3MV are to:
- Build participants’ knowledge on HIV/AIDS & other sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
- Help participants understand and identify risk factors and behaviours related to HIV and STIs
- Assist participants in setting appropriate goals for behaviour change to reduce risk
- Facilitate the building of participants’ sense of agency in being able to effectively meet the goals they’ve set for themselves
- Enhance participants’ self-esteem, especially as it relates to racial identity and sexual behaviour
- Provide social support and relapse prevention through community building
The program aims to empower participants to adopt tools to effectively deal with the social, emotional and psychological drivers for unsafe sex, such as depression, stress, anxiety and internalized homophobia. 3MV is based on an evidence-based HIV prevention intervention developed in the U.S. and disseminated by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) through the Diffusion of Effective Behavioral Interventions project (DEBI). Black CAP has used the foundation of the original 3MV and adapted it to better suit the needs of the Toronto Black community, integrating self-actualization techniques and a non-denominational spiritually themed closure ceremony, key activities that support the development of self-efficacy among participants.
The 3MV Program is delivered six times per year and takes place over three days and two nights with 15 GBT youth, 8 mentors, and three staff facilitators. The program delves directly into exercises and discussions that promote the exploration of emotions and feelings, facilitating community connection and sharing.Several mentors are also present over the course of the weekend, each one helping with the preparation of a meal before presenting to the group. The bonding process established by the intimate dynamic of the three-day retreat begins on the very first meeting.
Youth participate in a range of workshops and educational sessions/workshops. These sessions introduce participants to content that is central to the core elements of the program. Sessions include:
- Black gay men and Dual Identity: Participants are asked to consider internal and external factors that influence behviour change.
- Spokes and Wheels Brainstorming: Participants are lead to recognize the role that homophobia and racism play in their own perceptions of themselves and other Black and gay men.
- HIV and STI 101: An overview of STIs and HIV and the risk factors for contracting or transmitting them. The session concludes with participants assessing their own risk for STIs and HIV.
- Intentions to Act and Capacity for Change Exercises: Facilitators generate discussion on making changes to risky behaviours, engaging participants in establishing concrete goals as well as steps for achieving them.
- Addiction Workshop: An overview of substance use and substance abuse with strategies for harm reduction presented.
Funding and Program Partners
This program has been supported by a range of short term funding partners including the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care AIDS Bureau, the Ontario HIV Treatment Network and MAC AIDS Fund.
Young Black gay and bisexual men are at significant risk for HIV/AIDS, sexually tranmitted infection, substance dependance, mental health issues, and challenges in relation to immigration. The 3MV program has supported young Black gay men to address these challenges. The following are samples of participant testimonials collected at various stages of the evaluation process to date:
“We were able to come together as a Black gay community and discuss important issues surrounding us like AIDS and HIV. That topic brought us all together and made us a family.”
“The amount of strength I walked out with in the end [was impressive]. I was moved way beyond farther than I thought I would be. I had so many insecurities and self doubt.”
“It was good to hear from and see older Black mentors that went through what we’re going through, to hear their experiences and ask questions to help us with our troubles right now. It’s hard to find people to look up to especially when you’re a Black male.
“Even going into the retreat I was skeptical. A group of Black young males, [isn’t] going to listen: we’re going to rant and rave; we’re not going to learn anything. [But] being there, a family was created, and I was surprised by that.”
Toronto's Vital Signs® indicator(s) addressed by Program
Hate/bias crimes increased in the city of Toronto by almost 14% in 2009. 174 cases were reported in 2009, compared to 153 in 2008. The average over 17 years is 201.
- "Since 2007, the three most affected groups have been the Jewish community (the subject of the most attacks on the basis of religion, the majority being mischief/vandalism), the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) community (15% of occurrences in 2009) and the Black community, (8% of the population, and 14% of reported hate/bias crimes in 2009)."
- "The LGBT community suffered the majority of violent attacks in 2009, including 12 assaults and 1 attempted murder."
- "Racially motivated attacks (16% of the total reported – down from 18% in 2008) primarily targeted the Black community."
(Toronto's Vital Signs®, 2010)
In the words of a recent 3MV graduate:
"Since my 3MV session, a lot has happened, a lot of changes, a lot of successes I can say. Before 3MV I was very closed off to interacting with other people with the same sexual orientation (...) or gay or whatever you call it. But since then I've been able to come out to my family. I've been able to accept myself for who I am. I've been able to interact with my peers. I'm more than just "see you at the party" kind of thing, which has helped me tremendously. By being able to do all that, it will then allow me to professionally not worry about what might come my way in terms of discrimination or whatever the case may be, because I work in media and music and homophobia is a big deal there. Since 3MV, being able to accept myself, and come out to my family and be around my peers, it has allowed me to not fear people and it also showed me that I don't always need to be so strong and tough, and hard, which I was. In ways I'm still a little bit...I still am...I don't trust easily. I don't allow people to come in easily, but as time goes on and I've met a partner who has taught me to be more open and be more accepting of people and not so closed off, because it might be good on one hand because I might be able to protect myself and on the other hand it might not be good because I might be missing some good things. So, since then [participating in 3MV] all this stuff has happened and I started a company. I was just able to move forward and continue forward, and that's pretty much it."
Activities a donation will support
A donation to 3MV would allow us to increase the number of at-risk young gay male participants to this important program. Donations would support staffing, program costs such as food, accommodation, honoraria, transportation expenses, accomodation, and support outreach and promotion of the project. Every $1,000 invested in this program would allow 3 at-risk youth to participate.
A donation to this program or to our agency reduces the likelihood that a member of our community will become infected with HIV and provides important support programming for Black people living with HIV/AIDS. Donations allow Black CAP to deliver its programming across the city. A donation to 3MV allows us to support young Black gay and bisexual men who are at especially high risk for HIV/AIDS and allows us to provide programming that will help them reduce their risk.