A community-based research project examining the high rates of HIV and AIDS among Aboriginal women in Regina was launched this morning at the First Nations University of Canada.

The project is called “Digging Deep”. It’s focus is to examine the facts behind the figures and to identify solutions.

Dr. Carrie Bourassa, a FNUniv professor of Indigenous Health Studies, is one of the co-researchers for the project. Bourassa says despite the high rates of infection among Aboriginal women, there is little being done in the way of programs and resources to address the problem. She says the three-year pilot project study will take a different approach as it examines the issues that have led to such a high infection rate among Aboriginal women.

“It’s increasingly important that we understand some of the underlying factors as to why there is such high injection drug use among Aboriginal women. There is a reason for that and we need to understand what that reason is, but we also need to look at community-based solutions.”

Margaret Poitras is with the All Nations Hope Network which is teaming up with the university for the research project. Poitras deals first-hand with the many women who are infected with HIV or AIDS. She is confident this project will produce culturally-relevant solutions.

“Our involvement with research at All Nations Hope is to bring life to the community. And when it is done in a good way it can bring life. And we know this project will certainly bring life to the women who are at risk of developing HIV or living with HIV, to their families and to generations to come.”

Members of the research team will include elders, women infected with HIV, community members and medical practitioners.

This is a pilot project that will receive $450,000 in funding from the Canadian Institute of Health Research.

According to Health Canada, Saskatchewan’s HIV infection rate is twice the national average.