isolated man

A Needs Assessment of Hidden and Hard-to-Reach Populations in Northern Ontario and Niagara

Research Team:  Richard Rainville (nominated principal applicant), Stacey Mayhall (principal investigator), Glen Walker, Gerry Croteau, Holly Gauvin, Tim Guimond, Jean Bacon, Diana Campbell

What is this research about?

The populations that use the services of Community Based AIDS Organizations (CBAO) in Northern Ontario and in the small urban centre of Niagara are disproportionately people who inject drugs and people who are co-infected with hepatitis C. There is evidence that members of other priority populations, including gay men, bisexual men, and other men who have sex with men, who are living with or at risk of HIV are not regularly seeking services from these agencies.

The objectives of this research were to:

  1. Identify effective ways to connect with gay and bisexual men, and other men who have sex with men in order to understand their prevention and support needs; to identify the services they are using now; and to identify any barriers they face in accessing and/or using CBAO services
  2. Use the study findings to develop education, outreach, and support services that will meet the needs of our target populations, and share our findings with other service providers in our communities and other parts of the province to improve services for those populations
  3. Enhance our capacity and the capacity of peer research associates to participate in community-based research (CBR) and strengthen the relationships between members of our team and academic researchers, clients living with HIV/AIDS, and other CBAOs.


Preliminary results show that men in these regions lack “real-world” social connections to gay networks and thus most commonly connect with other men online. This often leads to loneliness and they desire physical spaces and opportunities to meet, which may be an opportunity for local services. Many feel that they would access CBAOs if they offered a social space for LBGT community. The most desired services were social space, including support for LGBT youth, followed by sexual education and HIV testing services.

OHTN Support:

This project was supported by a OHTN community-based research grant of $24,887 awarded in 2013.

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