Positive Outlook Program (POP) is an adults-only and members-only program for persons who are HIV positive that has been offering its wrap-around services on a drop in and outreach basis for the past 20 years. Members must be formally referred to the program by a physician. Just prior to POP’s being established and for some time after, the mortality rate amongst members – particularly Indigenous people – was extremely high and it was not uncommon that two or even three persons to die on a daily basis.
As the program matured, this depressing rate lessened thanks to a highly dedicated staff, one-to-one counselling, the availability of anti-retroviral medications and other necessities of life like daily meals, and social assistance programs such as:
• Group therapy
• Group education
• Peer counselling
• Housing Assistance (including crisis and emergency housing)
• Social work advocacy
• Art therapy
• Music therapy
• Health system navigation and assistance
• Indigenous talking circles
• Indigenous drum-making and drumming instruction
Within recent years, the drop-in center’s space also became ‘home’ to several client generated initiatives, including:
• DAMS – a harm reduction program for women
• The DUDE’s Club – a men’s health promotion collective
• CHIUS – a medical education support group for youth
• The Downtown Community Sweat Lodge Committee meeting space
Notwithstanding the program’s successes as a primarily ‘social’ response to a medical condition amongst people who are poverty stricken and are mainly disconnected from their families and society, this year POP has had its funding cut off. The funding has been shifted to a medically-based organization with scant little experience in social services, in what can only be labelled as a questionable process.
As we seek alternative funding, we are sustaining much of the program's services to meet the continued demand brought about by those who still rely on our daily drop-in center. Services will be continued for as long as our meager budget permits – as it stands, the program is being run with a reduced number of personnel and an extremely tightened budget.
Monetary donations will be very gratefully accepted in any amounts!
We are open seven days per week from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm.