Sexy Health Carnival on the Powwow Trail: HIV Prevention by and for Indigenous Youth

  • Renee Monchalin University of Toronto
  • Alexa Lesperance Native Youth Sexual Health Network
  • Sarah Flicker York University
  • Carmen Logie University of Toronto
  • Native Youth Sexual Health Network
Keywords: Indigenous, HIV, youth, sexual health, community-based participatory research, peer-led, Ontario, Canada


Background: This article introduces a peer-led pilot intervention called the “Sexy Health Carnival” (SHC) that takes a strengths-based approach to promoting Indigenous youth sexual health in a culturally safe context. Methods: In 2014, Indigenous youth leaders brought the SHC to 4 Ontario, Canada, powwows, where they administered an offline iPad survey to 154 Indigenous youth (aged 16 to 25) who engaged with the SHC. The survey gathered descriptive data on HIV prevention behaviours and intentions, and the acceptability of the SHC approach in powwow settings. Results: Over one third (40%) of youth thought that “a lot” of sex happens at powwows; 14% reported that they were either “definitely” or “probably” going to “hook up” or be sexual with someone at the powwow, and another 14% were not sure. Among those contemplating sexual activity, 79% said they would use a condom that they received at the SHC. The majority (80%) of youth rated the SHC as “awesome.” Conclusion: This pilot provides preliminary evidence that the SHC is feasible and welcomed by youth in powwow settings. This project illustrates that Indigenous youth are capable of developing successful sexual health outreach and HIV prevention resources for each other.


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