Theme: Social Science & Policy Research Year: 2019
Background: In Canada, the rate of hepatitis C (HCV) is 5X higher for Indigenous people compared to
their non-Indigenous counterparts. Indigenous people are over-represented among people who inject
drugs (PWID) and are under-represented in HCV care. These inequities are magnified for Indigenous
females. Peer navigation (PN) is a promising approach for supportive health care; PN is of particular
value in Indigenous contexts due to its wellness resonant elements. The current landscape of PN is
lacking a focus on Indigenous people, HCV, co-infection and wellness. This study addresses these gap.
Methods: Peers4Wellness (P4W) is an Indigenous peer-led community-based participatory study. It
involved an assessment of needs for supportive care for HCV and HIV among Indigenous women in
Vancouver and Fraser Valley, British Columbia. The study explored the feasibility of applying PN as a
springboard for developing a wellness-centered and Indigenous-specific model for supportive HCV and
HIV care. This involved consultations with three groups of community stakeholders (n=47): Indigenous
women with lived experiences, peer navigators and community organizations. This study applied
qualitative Indigenous research methodology, using Two-eyed Seeing as a dualistic (Indigenous and
Western) research framework. Data collection included Sharing Circles and conversational interviews.
Data analysis applied a dualistic thematic content analysis approach.
Results : The findings identified the need and key elements for a wellness-centered and Indigenousspecific model for HCV/HIV peer support for Indigenous women in Vancouver and Fraser Valley. This
model is distinct from conventional approaches to PN. It is wholistic, culture-based and designed to
resilience against the harms of substance use, HCV and HIV.
Conclusion : P4W introduces an innovative Indigenous model for supportive HCV/HIV care to improve
the wellness and health care outcomes for Indigenous women in Vancouver and Fraser Valley. We
expect that this model will be scalable and transferable.
Disclosure of Interest Statement : Research funding for Dr. King’s projects is primarily competitive from
the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. She also has research funding and support from the
University of Saskatchewan. Historically, she received speaker fees and grants from Gilead, Merck,
AbbVie and ViiV.