Beside medical consultation and drug distribution, Patients Living with HIV/AIDS (PLHAs) meet the different staffs attached to the psycho social department. This one has been established in order to explain how to better cope with antiretroviral therapy (ART), and to improve their quality of life through a range of support services. No need of referral from medical consultant or appointment to meet the psycho-social department staffs that comprise counselors, social workers, receptionists and facilitators.
After medical consultation, patients can meet one counselor to get psychological support (see counseling activities). S/He is here to listen about problems patients face in their daily life and to help them in finding solutions, to give them advices on self-care, in order to improve their quality of life. S/He encourages patients all throughout the time of their follow-up. at the centre. Counselors have a non-judgmental attitude and respect confidentiality. They organize Information & Education meetings for patients about to start ART. Before ART initiation, counselors assess the potential adherence of each patient through a standardized questionnaire (see questionnaire). The department is also in charge to organize the patients’ satisfaction survey once a year (see report).
During the very first time at our centre, one social worker receives patients to get information about their family and their socioeconomic situation that could be completed by home visit. This information is important to get a clear picture of patient's environment to provide the most adapted support. Social workers are aware of the discrimination towards PLHAs and thus ensure confidentiality regarding HIV status within patients’ community. Social workers help PLHAs to get in touch with a network of organizations (see list of partners) that can provide expert supports adapted to their own situation and needs. Besides, they are in charge of tracing defaulters and of facilitating access to HIV screening for patients’ relatives.
Receptionists and Facilitators
Receptionists and facilitators help PLHAs orientation within the centre. They welcome them and explain the organization of their different appointments. As peers, facilitators are the link between PLHAs and centre staff. During patients' waiting time within the centre, facilitators deliver them information and education about HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, nutrition, hygiene, adherence and any other issues related to their quality of life and the centre life.
Based on the results of socio-economic evaluations and home visit reports, the identified most vulnerable of our patients receive hygiene kits and nutritional support during 6 months, mostly at the time of starting ART (see support distribution). The less vulnerable ones get transportation fee reimbursement during a couple of years (see support distribution). These supports are delivered by one of the receptionist.
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