Realize is the leading national, charitable organization in Canada working to improve the health and wellbeing of people living and aging with HIV and other episodic disabilities (including disabilities related to long-COVID, MS, arthritis, chronic pain, and many other conditions) through integrated research, education, policy, and practice.
Founded in 1998, Realize emerged from a national dialogue amongst people living with HIV, community-based HIV organizations, government policymakers, teachers, researchers, rehabilitation professionals and other health care providers concerned about gaps in Canada’s HIV response, the impact of those gaps on the quality of people’s lives, and the role that rehabilitation supports could play in improving people’s health outcomes. Our work on disability grew logically out of our HIV and wellness roots and the expertise and lived experience of our members and partners.
Today, our work fosters and strengthens partnerships across clinical, research, community, and policy domains, advances education on evidence-informed rehabilitation interventions and models of service delivery and promotes social inclusion and financial security for people living with episodic disabilities. Realize is the convening organization for the Episodic Disabilities Forum — a forum of national disability organizations, federal policymakers, and researchers. We also host the Secretariat of the National Coordinating Committee on HIV and Aging. These national collaborations have wide-ranging impact across the HIV, disability, and aging sectors, fostering positive change for people living with HIV and other episodic disabilities.
The perspectives of our Board, members, and partners with lived experience at the intersections of HIV, disability, age, sexual identity, gender, and race inform our work and have led Realize to develop an expanded framework for fostering Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. We call it IDEAL: Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, Leading to Belonging. www.realizecanada.org
We work with
- People living with HIV and other episodic disabilities to improve awareness and access to rehabilitation programs and services
- Community based HIV organizations to explore how rehabilitation and age and disability appropriate supports can be integrated into the programs and services they provide
- The aging sector to respond to new challenges for care, treatment, and support of older adults living with HIV
- Other health and disability groups (e.g., arthritis, mental health, multiple sclerosis) to identify common challenges, coordinate strategies for change in public policy and to ensure that appropriate sexual health and HIV information and services are available to people living with disabilities
- Employers to create organizational cultures that value people living with HIV and other episodic disabilities and the contributions they can make in the workplace
- Governments to improve legislation effecting people living with HIV and other episodic disabilities
- Researchers and educators to train clinicians and students to identify priorities and emerging issues for people living with HIV and other episodic disabilities and undertake research
- International organizations to share best practices with our counterparts from other countries, as well as to learn from them.