Positive Living BC
Needs Assessment Among the HIV+ Community

Good relationships lead to great insights.

Following our successful partnership on a previous research project, Positive Living BC enlisted Context to conduct a needs assessment of the community services available to HIV-positive people living in the Vancouver area. Our learning from the previous work in this community was put to good use – specifically, how to work with the community itself to collect that knowledge.



When Context was approached by the BC Lung Association in 2010 to conduct a needs assessment of chronic lung disease awareness among people living with HIV, we had enlisted Positive Living BC – Western Canada’s largest AIDS-service provider – to help us conduct peer-facilitated research among this community.  

On the heels of that successful project, Positive Living BC hired us on their own to conduct a subsequent needs assessment to identify gaps in the delivery of services for people living with HIV and provide recommendations on how to address those gaps.

Having prior experience with the community through our previous research, we recognized that for our work to be effective and welcomed, it was important to enlist members of the community to facilitate the research on our behalf. This involved working closely with facilitators as our research partners, training the facilitators on how to collect the information we would need.

Being able to conduct a rigorous research program with hard to reach audiences often requires thinking creatively. In this case, we needed to target our approach by translating academic research methods into the realm of community-based research, employing tactics not typically associated with the academic model. Working with peer-facilitators enabled us to gain insight we would not have otherwise been able to acquire.
  • “I think there almost needs to be, like, peer outreach, besides healthcare. Because I think people need to be connected as persons and not just because of their illnesses. And I think that this is a way to get them in [to the clinic]."
    HIV+ Man, Vancouver

  • Key Themes for ‘Medical Environment”

    To visually characterize the repetition of themes within focus group discussions, we created this representation from the analysis. The figure above represents all discussion points under the theme area “Medical Environment - What do you need?”, where the larger text shows greater repetition of the word or theme.