9º World Congress on Health Information and Libraries

Salvador, Bahia - Brazil, September, 20 to 23 - 2005


4th Regional Coordination Meeting of the VHL

September, 19 to 20 - 2005

Rural Women and HIV/AIDS Information Exchange in Canada

  • MLS, Ph.D candidate, Faculty of Information and Media Studies, The University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario  - Canadá
  • Ph.D, Professor, Faculty of Information and Media Studies, The University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario  - Canadá
People living with HIV/AIDS (PHAs) face special challenges if they live in rural parts of Canada. The presence of the disease is often unrecognized by members of rural communities and, given conservative values in some areas, PHAs may be reluctant to reveal their health status to avoid stigma. Rural women with HIV/AIDS face particular challenges due to invisibility of women in the epidemic and their roles as caregivers of their family members, often regardless of their own health status. Rural communities may also have limited capacity to provide HIV-related health care, services and support. As a result, rural-dwelling women with HIV/AIDS and women caregivers have unique needs with respect to locating and receiving relevant information and help. Through this study, we aim to increase understanding about how information related to HIV/AIDS is exchanged in, and affects, rural communities. Central to this is consideration of the role of women. Individual, in-depth, semi-structured interviews will be conducted w ith members of two sparsely populated, rural, agricultural counties in Ontario, Canada. Participants will be recruited through health and social services, and using snowball sampling. Interviewees will include: PHAs, their friends and family members, health care providers, and staff and volunteers in community agencies. Interviews will focus on rural women’s: experiences with HIV/AIDS, sense of social isolation, barriers encountered in locating and using HIV/AIDS information, and the operation of informal networks for HIV/AIDS information exchange. The results of the study will be discussed with respect to the roles that libraries could play in facilitating HIV/AIDS information exchange, particularly with respect to IT and other potential intermediary functions that would improve the capacity of rural communities to support PHAs and their caregivers. Supporting community HIV/AIDS information exchange will be important in mobilizing effective responses to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, including promoting treatment p reparedness.