Photo of four african american women hugging and laughing. text reads "Black History Month: Why we serve african, black, and caribbean communities.

Black History Month: Why We Serve African, Caribbean, and Black Communities.  

Alisha OstbergBlog, human rights, social determinants, stigma, STIs

SafeLink Alberta is a non-profit organization that has been serving and advocating for priority populations in Calgary and southern Alberta since 1983. Our mission is to reduce the risks associated with sexual activity and substance use through education, non-judgmental services, and harm reduction programming. We believe that everyone deserves access to healthcare services, regardless of their background or lifestyle. That’s why we prioritize underserved communities and those who are most at risk for HIV, hepatitis C, and other sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections.

Why We Serve ACB Communities

The ACB (African, Caribbean, and Black) community is one of the communities we serve as an organization and is crucial for SafeLink Alberta for several reasons:

  • Black people made up 37% of new diagnoses of HIV in Alberta. (Government of Alberta, 2020; Alberta Health, 2019)
  • ACB communities face significant stigma based on gender, race, and sexual orientation.
  • People in the community face external stigma, as well as stigma from their peers.
  • Religious beliefs and customs, homophobia, and silence surrounding sexuality create barriers.
  • Fear in the community can also isolate people living with HIV.

Each of these experiences is a barrier to HIV and STBBI prevention. This judgment may discourage them from seeking much-needed support.

Recognizing and understanding the diverse needs and experiences within the ACB community is essential for providing culturally competent and inclusive services. By acknowledging individuals’ unique challenges in this community, SafeLink Alberta has tailored its programs and support services to address their specific concerns better.

What we do to build trust.

Doing the following to foster a strong connection with the ACB community is integral to building trust and rapport:

  • SafeLink Alberta builds effective communication and engagement strategies that are culturally sensitive and respectful and are vital in ensuring that individuals from the ACB community feel comfortable seeking our support.
  • We recognize the diversity within the ACB community. Creating targeted outreach and awareness campaigns designed to share information about services, resources, and advocacy efforts to a broader audience within the community, facilitating a more significant impact.
  • We engage and collaborate with the ACB community, creating a safe and supportive environment for all individuals, regardless of their cultural background.

Prioritizing the ACB community is essential for SafeLink Alberta to provide effective, culturally sensitive support services, build trust, increase accessibility, and fulfill its commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Want to learn more about our services?

African, Caribbean, and Black specific resources:

In the African Kitchen: A community-building event that brings ACB community members together over homemade African food. There, they can share experiences and conversations of diverse origins. Read the cookbook here.

ACB Case Manager

More services:

Drop-in services:

  • Safer consumption supplies
  • Safer sex supplies
  • Naloxone kits
  • Basic food and hygiene supplies
  • Information and referrals
  • Advocacy to address barriers to service

Peer Support:

  • Peer support (individual and group programs) for people living with HIV
  • Peer support (group-based) for sex workers, including a group for trans sex workers

Case Management:

  • Comprehensive and individualized support services
  • Engage clients in the development of a service plan
  • Provide emotional support, crisis intervention, and education
  • Coordinate a network of services on behalf of clients by bridging communication gaps between clients and service providers, attending and/or arranging case conferences, and accompanying clients to appointments as appropriate.
  • Referrals and facilitation of access to treatment and recovery programs

Outreach services:

Our team can be found throughout the downtown core several days a week, providing supplies and support.


SafeLink Alberta has both the internal capacity to deliver services in French if a client or community member requests and the ability to access external translation services to assist with communication as required.

SafeLink Alberta will support translation services to members of Indigenous and African, Caribbean, and Black communities as needed, as these are key demographics within our direct client services.