Diseases such as HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis-C (HCV) thrive in conditions of poverty and marginalization. Research on the quality of life of people living with HIV/AIDS reveals that unemployed individuals report more depression, anxiety, social isolation, and low self-esteem than employed individuals. Moreover, unemployment is a key factor in the contemplation of suicide among people with HIV/AIDS. Alternatively, employment among people living with HIV/AIDS is a strong indicator of improved quality of life. A finding we confirmed in our research study (PROMPT) supporting 80 members of Ottawa’s low-income homeless (or at-risk for homelessness) people Who Use Drugs reduce (and in some cases quit) smoking.
Many PROMPT participants repeatedly stated that boredom and a lack of meaningful social connections and employment were major hindrances in their reduction and overall recovery from smoking and drug use. We propose a community-based participatory action study that builds the social capital of 80 participants that identify as members of Ottawa and Toronto’s low-income People Who Use drugs living with or are at-risk for HIV/AIDS/HCV. The proposed multi-site study will include life-skills training, counseling, health services access, and education on HIV/AIDS/HCV. Most importantly the study will include a poverty reduction intervention that connects participants with short-term work and volunteer opportunities that are made possible with the support of local business owners and networks. The aim of study will be to demonstrate the feasibility of holistic healthcare that encourage a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being.