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What is weSpeak?

weSpeak: Straight Black Men Building Resilience to HIV in Ontario is a 5-year program of research and related activities with African, Caribbean and Black (ACB) heterosexual men in Ontario to:

enhance their appreciation of the conditions that help HIV to spread;
strengthen their commitment to HIV prevention;
and strengthen community networks to end HIV and promote health among ACB communities.

Who is leading weSpeak?

A team of researchers, service providers, policy makers and community members in London, Ottawa, Toronto and Windsor. To see our full team, visit our Project Team page.

What kinds of research activities will weSpeak do?

From 2015-2020 weSpeak will involve 3 phases:

Phase 1 – Focus groups and in-depth interviews

We will engage ACB men to explore their ideas and experiences being straight ACB men, the social and structural determinants of HIV vulnerabilities and resilience.

We will also engage community stakeholders to explore their ideas on what shapes straight ACB men’s HIV vulnerabilities and resilience.

Phase 2 – A survey

We will use surveys to engage straight ACB men to learn about their values towards gender roles, their everyday experiences of discrimination, individual and collective resilience, and condom use practices.

Phase 3 – Concept-mapping

We will engage ACB men and community stakeholders through concept mapping (a collaborative activity) to apply the research results of Phases 1 and 2 to develop a best practices model on effective HIV responses among ACB men and communities. Data collection phases will be followed by knowledge translation and exchange activities that engage ACB men and communities to advance programs, services and policies.

Who is eligible to participate in weSpeak?

Anyone who self identifies as:

• African, Caribbean or Black
• A heterosexual man
• 16 years of age or older
• Living in Toronto, Ottawa, London or Windsor
• Fluent in English (In Ottawa and Toronto, fluent in either French or English)

Why is weSpeak needed?

weSpeak seeks to address the ways ACB people in Ontario have been especially vulnerable to HIV. For example, ACB people who are infected with HIV through heterosexual contact account for almost 20% all HIV-positive people in the province, even though ACB people as a whole make up less than 5% of the province’s total population.

It is estimated that ACB men account for almost 60% of ACB people infected with HIV through heterosexual contact; but ACB men are less likely than ACB women to be tested and diagnosed for HIV.

Heterosexual ACB men in Ontario face challenges accessing relevant information and programs. ACB men are often stereotyped as irresponsible, reckless, and incapable of dealing with the issues that affect their wellbeing. In general, HIV research and programs have not been aligned with heterosexual ACB men’s needs and interests, and health agencies have been slow to meaningfully engage them.

However, our previous research showed that ACB men are resourceful and resilient about the issues that impact their health and wellbeing, and thoughtful about being more involved in community responses to HIV.

Where did the idea for weSpeak come from?

weSpeak grew out of iSpeak, a community initiated and community-based research project in Toronto and London, Ontario. iSpeak was developed to:

(1) Understand the HIV-related needs, challenges and priorities of ACB heterosexual men and
(2) Assess the potential for greater involvement of ACB heterosexual men in organized responses to HIV among ACB communities.

How can I learn more about iSpeak?

You can read the iSpeak final report Talking Black by clicking HERE
You can also watch a short film, The Test, HERE

Who is funding weSpeak?

weSpeak is funded by the Ontario HIV Treatment Network and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research

How can I learn more about weSpeak?

You can visit the About Us page or contact the weSpeak team in your city.