Aboriginal gay men don't always get HIV testing because of stigma

Health professionals say that aboriginal gay men don't access health care because of the stigma related to HIV infection, gender non-conformity and homophobia.

'You could say that there is a double stigma for aboriginal persons who are gay,' says Dr. Evan Adams

Dr. Evan Adams says we need to undo the stigma surrounding being Indigenous and being gay because it's stopping people from getting help. (iStock)

Health professionals say that aboriginal gay men don't access health care because of the stigma related to HIV infection, gender non-conformity and homophobia. 

"You could say that there is a double stigma for aboriginal persons who are gay," said Dr. Evan Adams, chief medical health officer at B.C.'s First Nation's Health Authority

"In Canada, there is still a small segment of the population ... who are fearful of aboriginal people and fearful of gay men and that can create real obstacles to obtaining health care," said Dr. Adams, who is a member of the Tla'amin First Nations.

In 2007, the health authority reviewed health status for First Nations people with HIV and noticed that HIV mortality rates were still terrible despite having accessible and available treatment for HIV. 

"Mortality was still going up," he said. 

But the stigma associated with HIV hindered aboriginal persons from getting tested. 

"There is nothing wrong with HIV testing," said Adams.

"But if you go to aboriginal person and say I would like to test you for HIV. They respond well, why would you want to do that? What are you thinking about me?" he said. 

Adams said he spends most of his time trying to promote HIV testing. 

He said health professionals need to be more open and respectful to help break down the stigma. 

Dr. Evan Adams will be delivering a keynote address at Gay Men's Health Summit at Simon Fraser University's Harbour Centre. 


To hear the full interview, click the audio labelled: Aboriginal gay men don't always get HIV testing because of stigma on CBC's The Early Edition.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.