The research is a community-based research (CBR) study intended to (1) contribute to the understanding of how the “Greater Involvement of Persons Living with HIV/AIDS” (GIPA) principle is operationalized in rural regions, and (2) to provide direction to AIDS Service Organizations (ASOs), policy makers and people living with HIV/AIDS (PHAs) or at-risk for HIV about how the ideals of GIPA could be fully realized within ASOs in rural regions of Canada, specifically in the rural regions of the Maritime provinces (Nova Scotia [NS], New Brunswick [NB], and Prince Edward Island [PEI]). In future research, the applicants intend to test the framework that arises from the research by assessing its ‘transferability’ to other rural regions and to affected people. The majority of research to date about GIPA has been conducted in large urban centres. Constraints to GIPA are magnified in rural regions where there is no critical mass of service users and where stigmatization is a significant factor hampering GIPA in rural regions. The operationalization of GIPA is additionally challenged in rural regions by difficulties in accessing and engaging further marginalized sub-groups, such as Aboriginal people and users of drugs. The research design entails a staged and mixed qualitative approach to effectively address the complex and multidimensional issue of meaningful involvement, including: (1) Stage 1: individual interviews of stakeholders; (2) Stage 2: the use of photovoice to capture the experience of the population of interest and the formulation of a discussion paper and the development of posters from the photovoice component; and (3) Stage 3: a Strategy Workshop. We previously received ethical approval for the first phase of the research study. This submission for ethical approval targets the second phase, photovoice.

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