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The DUDES' Club

An innovative health service model for marginalised inner-city men living with or at risk of HIV infection in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside - one of Canada's most impoverished neighbourhoods.

Introduction

Hi, my name is Doreen Littlejohn. I am the Positive Outreach Nursing Coordinator for the Vancouver Native Health Society (VNHS), which serves the health needs of an urban Aboriginal population. My colleague, Richard Johnson, is an outreach worker who coordinates the DUDES' (Downtown Urban Knights Defending Equality and Solidarity) Club, an innovative health service model for marginalised inner-city men living with or at risk of HIV infection in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, one of Canada's most impoverished neighborhoods.

We launched the DUDES' Club pilot in 2010 with a grant from the Positive Action Canada Innovation Program - PACIP. (Editor’s note: PACIP promotes innovative projects that impact the health and well-being of people living with HIV). We could not have done any of this work without the grant because we are a nonprofit society that has already faced severe funding cuts.

What we have already accomplished with this programme is amazing! Many of the men we serve at VNHS have stoically endured difficult lives. I often used to say, "They will sit silently and die in the corner." But DUDES' Club members have learned they have a place to gather with friends who have become family. In this nurturing environment, the Dudes learn how to better care for themselves. The club has changed, and possibly saved lives.

We are pleased to take you on a tour of the DUDES' Club, and to introduce you to some of the Dudes.

Key Facts

Project: 
The DUDES' Club

Run by:
Vancouver Native Health Society

Region:
Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, one of Canada's most impoverished neighborhoods

Population:
Marginalised inner-city men, mostly of Aboriginal ethnicity, living with or at risk of HIV infection

Challenges:
Stigma and discrimination; poor education; poverty and unstable housing; injection drug use; mental illness

Activities:
Bi-weekly group meetings focussing on peer-support-driven men's health education, traditional storytelling, and male-oriented recreation