With its large population of immigrants from countries with a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, Toronto considers HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention one of its most serious public health challenges. To help its host city confront that problem, APA co-sponsored Community Day, titled "Family Front and Centre: The Role of Families in Adapting to and Preventing HIV/AIDS," held Aug. 6 during APA's Annual Convention. The event was made possible through a partnership among the National Institute of Mental Health, the Ontario HIV Treatment Network, The Teresa Group, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research – Institute of Infection and Immunity, the Canadian Psychological Association, and 10 other Canadian community and academic organizations.
NIMH brings the meeting to a different city each year to share the latest research and evidence-based practices on HIV/AIDS with local policymakers, researchers and health officials. Community Day focuses on the resilience of families in preventing HIV transmission and develops interventions for families, friends and others who cope with the stress and stigma of HIV/AIDS.
"If there has ever been a disease that multiple generations can be impacted by, this is it," said NIMH's Willo Pequegnat, PhD, one of the conference organizers. "Our definition of family is a network of mutual commitment."
Nearly 200 attended the meeting, including researchers, policymakers, health officials, volunteers from community-based HIV/AIDS agencies and community members. Speakers, who included APA President James H. Bray, PhD, and Gail E. Wyatt, PhD, of the University of California, Los Angeles, AIDS Institute, presented data on interventions aimed at improving communication about HIV risk and condom use among families to cut down transmission rates and addressed ways to alleviate the stress that affects children with a parent who is infected.
APA may play a role in next year's meeting as well: Community Day organizers are considering coordinating the meeting with APA's 2010 Annual Convention in San Diego.
"The Community Day is the first of I hope many efforts in which we will share our knowledge and expertise with communities to engage and facilitate implementation of our research and practice in real-world settings in the cities where APA is meeting," said Bray.