Realize is the leading national, charitable, organization in Canada working to improve the health and well-being of people living with HIV and other episodic disabilities, across the lifespan, through integrated research, education, policy, and practice.
Formed in 1998, Realize (formerly the Canadian Working Group on HIV and Rehabilitation) promotes innovation and excellence in rehabilitation in the context of HIV and other chronic and potentially episodic conditions. We bridge the traditionally separate worlds of HIV, disability and rehabilitation through research, education and cross-sector partnerships.
Realize envisions a future in which people with HIV and other episodic disabilities enjoy a life of optimal health and well-being.
Realize is a leader and catalyst for improving the health and well-being of people living with HIV and other episodic disabilities, across the lifespan, through integrated research, education, policy and practice.
Members and Partners
Realize members come from across Canada, as well as internationally, and include people living with HIV and other chronic conditions, members of community-based HIV and disability organizations, national associations of health professionals, government agencies, private businesses, universities, and the employment sector. Members elect a five – twelve-person Board of Directors to guide the organization.
Realize hosts the Secretariat of the National Coordinating Committee on HIV and Aging (NCC). Comprised of older adults living with HIV as well as representatives from community-based and national organizations, clinicians, and researchers from both the HIV and aging sectors, the NCC addresses issues affecting older adults living with or vulnerable to HIV in Canada through information exchange, collaborative initiatives, and awareness-raising.
Realize is also the convening organization for the Episodic Disabilities Forum — a pan-Canadian forum comprised of national disability organizations, federal policymakers and researchers that identifies relevant evidence and policy initiatives and disseminates information to raise the profile of episodic disabilities, like those experienced by many people living with HIV, and promotes the inclusion of people in Canada who live with episodic disabilities.
Following consultations with key actors in the HIV response across Canada, in 2020 Realize established the National Community Advisory Group (NCAG) on optimal health and wellbeing in the HIV community. The concept of optimal health and wellbeing emerged from a shared understanding that previous international and national HIV prevention, testing and treatment goals have been inadequate in addressing the full scope of the ongoing HIV/AIDS crisis, and an additional focus on quality of life (optimal health and wellbeing) is needed.
We work with
- People living with HIV and other episodic disabilities to help improve awareness and access to rehabilitation programs and services.
- Community based HIV organizations to explore how rehabilitation can be integrated into the programs and services they provide
- Rehabilitation and health care providers to explain how they can apply their training to give people living with HIV and other episodic disabilities better and more integrated care
- The aging sector to respond to new challenges for care, treatment, and support
- Employers to look at ways to create an organizational culture that values people living with HIV and other episodic disabilities and the contributions they can make
- Governments to coordinate policies and programs, and improve legislation for people living with HIV and other episodic disabilities
- Insurance companies to develop flexible policies to provide access to rehabilitation and income security for people living with HIV and other episodic disabilities
- Other health and disability groups (e.g., arthritis, mental health, multiple sclerosis) to identify common challenges
- Researchers and educators to train clinicians and students to identify priorities and emerging issues and undertake research
- International organizations to share best practices with our counterparts from other countries, as well as to learn from them.