Barriers to Meaningful Involvement in AIDS Service Organizations in Three Canadian Maritime Provinces

Steven Michael Ross, Lynne Duffy, Leslie Jeffrey, Donna Bulman, Marni Amirault


A three-year, community-based descriptive study examined how meaningful involvement in AIDS Service Organizations (ASOs) is conceptualized and experienced in three Canadian Maritime provinces that are considered rural areas. This paper focuses on one aspect of the research, namely the barriers to meaningful involvement in ASOs. Thirty-five participants were interviewed who self-identified as current or past clients of an ASO and were living with, or engaging in, at-risk behaviors for HIV/AIDS. Photovoice, a qualitative Community-Based Research (CBR) strategy, was also used with a small sample because marginalized populations that are traditionally difficult to recruit for interviews have embraced this method due to its oral-based and interactive design. The contribution to the field of knowledge about barriers to meaningful involvement is organized around three main themes: (1) stigma, a major negative influence, is particularly powerful due to the nature of social structures in rural communities; (2) readiness for meaningful involvement, where poor health status or the desire to lead a normal life can significantly impact an individual’s involvement, and (3) characteristics of the ASO environment that are critical in determining the degree, if any, of meaningful involvement.

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