Stachen Frederick established BrAIDS for AIDS in 2008 in response to the community need for culturally appropriate and engaging responses to HIV/AIDS in the community. From the inception of BrAIDS for AIDS, funds have been channeled towards various HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention programs in the African Caribbean and Black Communities across Canada and internationally. Today, BrAIDS for AIDS has had many initiatives including an HIV/AIDS program and hair service for young men in a detention centre and a free hairdressing health promotion course for young girls as well a signature event called a BrAIDathon; a day of hair and health talk while members of the community get their hair braided.
“We bring BrAIDS for AIDS to the community through beauty. A lot of people wouldn’t typically go to something around HIV, AIDS or sexual health, we go where the community is because sometimes the community isn’t going to come to us.”
BrAIDS for AIDS
BrAIDS for AIDS raises awareness of HIV/AIDS within the African Caribbean and Black community through cultural practice of hair braiding. Sexual health awareness programs, particularly in marginalized communities that are geared to people of colour are lacking across Canada. However, there is a need when analyzing prevalence and incidence rates in these communities, particularly for black women.
The BrAIDS for AIDS model is an innovative model of HIV/AIDS prevention that pairs a highly stigmatized topic with activities focusing on beauty and hair. Hair braiding is a pastime of many cultures. Braiding takes a considerable time to do, which allows hairdressers, volunteers to provide 101 HIV/AIDS information to clients while getting their hair done. BrAIDS for AIDS vision is that African Caribbean and Black communities will engage in dialogue in safe and open spaces to reduce the stigma and spread of HIV/AIDS. The organization has grown to support communities all across Canada in places such as Toronto, Ottawa, Sudbury and countries such as Trinidad and Anguilla.