Acceptance and Commitment to Empowerment (ACE) Intervention: Reducing HIV Stigma and Promoting Community Resilience Through Capacity Building

HIV stigma is a priority issue that negatively affects people living with HIV (PLHIV) or vulnerable to HIV, especially in terms of accessing HIV and mental health care. The Project ACE intervention program consists of evidence-based trainings in reducing stigma at the individual and collective levels.

Our Project is carried out in six local sites across Canada: Alberta (Calgary, Edmonton), and Ontario (Greater Toronto Area (GTA), London, Niagara & Ottawa)

Study Purpose

We aim to study the efficacy, satisfaction, and cost-effectiveness of online ACE training at 6 project sites in Alberta (Calgary, Edmonton) and Ontario (Greater Toronto Area (GTA), London, Niagara & Ottawa).


The ACE program consists of: (a) six weekly self-directed learning modules with experiential and reflective learning activities; and (b) six weekly online group debriefing sessions in which the facilitators debrief the learning activities and participants can share their insights. 

Applying the integrated ACE model, and using a similar online format as WE-CARE and PACER,

  • The modules are underpinned by the values and principles of social justice and equity, empathy and compassion, collective empowerment, and recognition of our interdependence.
  • The learning strategies are collaborative and informed by Freirean pedagogy of critical dialogue and reflection.
  • The learning modules also promote skills and capacity through six psychological emancipatory processes as described above under the explanation of ACT and SJCB:

    1. defusion (observing thoughts as thoughts)
    2. acceptance (of experiences of emotions and feelings)
    3. contact with the present moment (mindfulness)
    4. self-as-context (observer self, interconnectedness, and self-perspective)
    5. values (being clear about what matters)
    6. committed action (taking action based on values)  

Project Activities

Phase One

Contextual Assessment and application
(2022 – 2023)

Phase Two

ACE Train-the-Trainer Community Capacity Building
(2023 + ongoing mentorship)

Phase Three

ACE Training with Community Members
(2023 – 2024)

Expected Outcomes

Knowledge gained from this study will inform HIV stigma reduction in affected communities. It will advance our understanding of the factors, processes, contexts and costs that influence the adoption of evidence-based interventions in different settings. The online version of ACE offers access flexibility and potential integration or scaled up across Canada.