SHAWNA Project Phase I: Planning & Consultation

This spring, the SHAWNA Project (Sexual Health & HIV/AIDS: Women's Longitudinal Needs Assessment) began it's first phase, planning and consultation with community organizations and women living with HIV!

The SHAWNA Project is a research project that will focus on the social, policy, legal, gender, and geographic gaps in women's sexual health and HIV care across Metro Vancouver, led by the Gender & Sexual Health Initiative in collaboration with a diverse team of researchers, community, legal and policy experts and women living with HIV/AIDS, representing a number of groups including Positive Women's Network, Pacific AIDS Network, BC Women's Hospital & Health Centre / Women's Health Research Institute / Oak Tree Clinic, YouthCo. AIDS Society, BC Centre for Disease Control, Aboriginal Health Research Program (UVIC), Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, and others.

Recent evidence suggests that new infections among women in BC and across Canada are not declining despite harm reduction and prevention efforts, and that women are representing a greater proportion of people living with HIV. Given ongoing concerns of sub-optimal HIV care and treatment outcomes for women, and complex issues of criminalization of HIV, stigma, gender, poverty, racism, institutional and geographic barriers negatively impacting women's sexual health and HIV care experiences, SHAWNA aims to interview and follow 500 women living with HIV across Metro Vancouver, Canada as part of a multi-year study funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). Through mixed methods research, we hope to document broader barriers and examine over time how women navigate their sexual and reproductive health, HIV, and access to care to improve women-centered sexual health and HIV care policy and practice in BC.

With the overall goal of improving women-centered sexual health and HIV care policies and practices, the SHAWNA Project core objective is to document over time how various social, policy and place-based factors shape WLWH's experiences navigating their HIV status; sexual and reproductive health rights and needs; and access and uptake of sexual health and HIV care and how do these factors intersect to impact on WLWH's sexual and reproductive health and HIV outcomes. Drawing on the diversity of expertise and experiences of the team (community, HIV service providers, clinical, legal, and research) and mixed methods, we hope to better understand the broader HIV, sexual and reproductive health rights, needs and choices of women and how women's experiences navigating care differently play out for various sub-populations, e.g. youth, women in poverty, racialized women.

What's next?

Phase I: Planning & Consultation Phase (April - August 2014)

  • Meeting with key experts: Women living with HIV, and diverse stakeholders from HIV service, policy, health and community
  • Hiring and training of research and outreach teams
  • Seeking guidance/input on key questions and topics to address & piloting questions
  • Setting up SHAWNA Advisory Committees (Positive Women's Advisory & Broader Stakeholder)  

Phase II: Launch of Research & Outreach Teams (September 2014!!)

If you are a Woman (Trans* inclusive) Living with HIV, we want to hear from you!

The SHAWNA team is committed to meaningful involvement of Women Living with HIV (WLWH).

  1. Join the expert interviews & informal talking circies to tell us your priorities and guidance on key issues/ topics/ questions.
  2. Join the Positive Women's Advisory Board (We will meet every 3-4 months, honoraria provided)
  3. Join the SHAWNA team as a Coordinator (Current postings:
  4. Join the SHAWNA peer outreach team - a partnership with Positive Women's Network & YouthCo. (More information to come!)

For questions or to learn more, please contact:
Jill Chettiar, GSHI Research Coordinator, or
Dr. Kathleen Deering, Co-Principal Investigator
On our website:
By email:
By phone: 604-603-5274