Staff and volunteers of AIDS Committee of Ottawa pose for group pic    Photo copyright Black Ottawa Scene

Monday 26 November 2018

Some fifty community leaders, service providers and stakeholders were at the Sandy Hill Community Health Centre on  Nelson Street to witness the launching of  a 12 month pilot project titled the African, Caribbean, and Black (ACB) Health Zone. The launch evening consisted  of a brief introduction of the ACB Health Zone to Ottawa’s ACB communities. It was also an opportunity for attendees to discuss and learn about the social programs and clinical services offered at the ACB Health Zone every Monday 5.00 p.m.- 8.00 p.m at the Sandy Hill Community Health Centre. This innovative project was the brainchild of the AIDS Committee of Ottawa (ACO) and the African and Caribbean Health Network of Ottawa (ACHNO) to implement the Ontario HIV/AIDS Prevention Strategy.

About ACB Health Zone

The ACB Health Zone aims to reduce rates of HIV, Hep C and other sexually transmitted blood born infections (STBBI) among ACB communities in Ottawa, by addressing the key social determinants of health, which create vulnerability and health/social inequities for ACB populations.

According to the ACO Executive Director Khaled Salam, the vision for the ACB Health Zone is twofold:

1.       Offering creative consistent culturally inclusive social programming, namely:  nutrition workshops; hair care; and youth programming.  Programming will be assessed every 3 months and subject to change post evaluation. 

2.       Clinical services: diabetes screening; point of care (POC) anonymous rapid HIV testing and health navigation.

The goal is to attract community members with culturally inclusive programs, while simultaneously providing access to much needed clinical services.

Among those present at the ceremony were Haoua Inoua Manager of Education & Prevention, ACO; Taib Boyce, MSM Ethno-cultural Resource Coordinator, ACO; Felicite Murangira  who was the initiator of Ottawa’s first HIV/AIDS Prevention programming; Rev. Joseph Kiirya of the River Jordan Ministries, one of the city’s leading Black clerics and champion of health programming for ACB communities; Professor Josephine Etowa of the University of Ottawa Nursing program;  Ling Wang, Community Health Worker Centretown Community Health Centre; and Nepo Nkurunziza, Case Worker, Catholic Centre for Immigrants.