Media Releases

HIV/STI prevention program in Haiti is changing and saving lives

March 4, 2014

TORONTO, ON — New research from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to shows that a lit­tle train­ing can go a long way in a des­per­ate sit­u­a­tion.

Car­men Logie, assis­tant pro­fes­sor in the Fac­tor-Inwen­tash Fac­ul­ty of Social Work, demon­strat­ed that mar­gin­al­ized and dis­placed women in Leogane, Haiti, can mea­sur­ably impact men­tal and sex­u­al health behav­iours in their vil­lage. Leogane was at the epi­cen­tre of a 2010 earth­quake that dis­placed entire pop­u­la­tions and led to the col­lapse of busi­ness, social and health infra­struc­ture through­out the coun­try.

“By bring­ing women togeth­er for six edu­ca­tion­al ses­sions in a space for them to build con­nec­tions and share their sto­ries, pub­lic health improved sig­nif­i­cant­ly,” explained Logie. “Sex­u­al health aware­ness and prac­tices increased sig­nif­i­cant­ly and rates of depres­sion in the com­mu­ni­ty dropped 20 per cent.”

Logie vis­it­ed Leogane six times between 2011–2012 train­ing eight dis­placed women liv­ing in tents to become health work­ers. These eight health work­ers helped imple­ment the pro­gram with help from 200 oth­er dis­placed women.

Logie’s edu­ca­tion­al ses­sions took a holis­tic approach that addressed sex­u­al and men­tal health, healthy rela­tion­ships and cop­ing with trau­ma.

“By the end of the pro­gram par­tic­i­pants had increased HIV and STI knowl­edge, increased con­dom use in the com­mu­ni­ty and decreased depres­sion rates from 33 to 13 per cent,” says Logie.

Logie is plan­ning to repli­cate the pro­gram in oth­er parts of Haiti, inte­grat­ing HIV test­ing and treat­ment as well as a micro-finance com­po­nent to encour­age cit­i­zens to build social and finan­cial cap­i­tal. She is also plan­ning to adapt and pilot-test the pro­gram with dis­placed women in South Sudan.

Logie says the pub­lic needs to know about post-dis­as­ter sit­u­a­tions and the long-last­ing effect they can have on the pover­ty and health of sur­vivors.

“We can empow­er inter­nal­ly dis­placed per­sons and build their capac­i­ty to be part of the solu­tion and deliv­er what­ev­er nec­es­sary help the sit­u­a­tion calls for,” says Logie. “There are 27 mil­lion inter­nal­ly dis­placed per­sons around the world liv­ing in tents and tent cities so we hope we can apply this con­cept else­where.”

Note: Images avail­able upon request.


For more infor­ma­tion, con­tact:

Car­men Logie, PhD
Fac­tor-Inwen­tash Fac­ul­ty of Social Work
Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to
Tel: 647–454-4203

Michael Kennedy
Media Rela­tions Offi­cer
Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to
Tel: 416–946-5025