Kyle Runeckles, MSc student at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, has a wealth of information on his hands. As a follow-up to the Long form National Census survey of 2001 and 2006, the Aboriginal Peoples Survey gathered information from First Nations people living off reserve, Métis and Inuit from across Canada. Weighted to proportionally represent all off reserve Aboriginal People in Canada, the survey asked questions regarding ancestry, identity, language, perceived health status, mobility and transportation among others. From this vast data set, Kyle is hoping to determine both risk factors and protective factors for acquiring HIV in the Canadian Aboriginal population.
Currently in the initial stages of his research, Kyle is working to help determine questions that are relevant to the communities involved. “We are not interested in saying ‘These are the reasons why people get HIV’,” explains Kyle. “We’re trying to find questions that give a strengths-based perspective on the unique life experiences of Aboriginal people living with HIV.”
Kyle hopes that the results of his research will provide more focus to interventions, policies and programs. “This is one step to help create more targeted and effective interventions,” says Kyle. “There are a myriad of arms that are working together to strengthen and support the Aboriginal community— a community disproportionally affected by HIV. I hope this study can give some national perspective on the burden of HIV among off reserve populations.”
The CAHR Master’s award is helping Kyle ensure the research is well founded and produces relevant results. “With support from CAHR, I can take the time necessary to deal with a project of this complexity,” Kyle explains. “It would be easy to take black and white questions and choose significant variables and ignore others because they were difficult. However, this would be a disservice to the Aboriginal community and the data set.”
The Canadian Association for HIV Research is proud to support students like Kyle Runeckles in their research through graduate research awards. Please visit https://www.cahr-acrv.ca/funding-opportunities/ to learn more.