Psycho-social support

Psychosocial support can be defined as any assistance given to people living with HIV, their families and care givers to make their lives easier.  This type of support is important because HIV infection affects a person’s entire life leaving them open to stigma and discrimination and loss of socioeconomic status if employment is affected. Psychosocial support is therefore necessary for several reasons.  Firstly to help the affected persons  cope with the practical problems caused by the disease, secondly  to relieve the stress caused by the infection and to prevent  the likelihood of the development of serious mental health problems, and thirdly to ensure compliance and adherence to treatment.

People living with HIV in the Caribbean and their families face many challenges in accessing quality psychosocial care and support. These challenges include varying levels of expertise, training, certification and recognition, lack of standardization of training and trainer, poor institutional structure as well as stigma, discrimination at every level of the society.
Evidence gathered across the region shows that people living with HIV are among the groups in our population who display high rates of mental health problems. While guidelines exist for HIV Counselling and Testing there is little in the way of specific guidelines for dealing with the mental health aspects of HIV infection.  There is also no clear guidance on the management of the array of psychosocial issues that can affect people living with HIV throughout their lifespan.

PANCAP has been working on the development of a Guide for Psychosocial Practitioners in HIV Care in the Caribbean with funding from the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.   Master trainers will be equipped to transfer knowledge at the national level. This guide will address the challenges which contribute to the inconsistency in the quality of care currently being provided and will provide background to the psychosocial issues in HIV, including mental health issues like depression.  It will also address socio-cultural issues including stigma, gender, sexuality, mobility and traditional healing. In addition it will propose specific techniques for addressing the psychological and social needs of the Caribbean client.

For more information visit:
Finalising A Guide for Caribbean Psycho-social Practitioners in HIV Care

www.aidsalliance.org