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What Peer Counselors Say

The stories from the Healthy Mother, Healthy Child project continue. Peer counselors from 6 regions of the Russian Federation share their impressions of their work.…

The stories from the Healthy Mother, Healthy Child project continue. Peer counselors from 6 regions of the Russian Federation share their impressions of their work.

In November 2016 our organization launched the second stage of the Healthy Mother, Healthy Child project. You can read about what was accomplished in the first stage of the project here: One project can change the fate of many people.

In 2016-2017 the project will be implemented in the following cities: Vladivostok, Ekaterinburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Saint Petersburg, Tumen, and Khabarovsk. The uniqueness and ingenuity of this phase of the project lies in the fact that peer counselors, or more correctly, ‘HIV Counselors’, are now officially stationed at AIDS centers in the cities mentioned above. The timetable for peer counselors is available here.

What peer counselors say:


Yulia (Tumen):


“The work is fully underway! In November 23 people were taken in. A trip was made to the perinatal center to a HIV positive new mother, though it is true that we were unable to convince her to give the child preventative treatment. The only thing she agreed to was to refrain from breastfeeding the infant. The woman refuses to take ARVT.


One extremely common issue that I have is that of planning for pregnancy in mixed-status couples. People don’t have information about this. I am trying to raise awareness on this topic.


We organized proxy and delivery of ARVT to a single mother with a year-old child who has no opportunity to visit that AIDS center to receive her medicine. The doctors at the center are informed about the project; a trustworthy infectious disease doctor has been allocated to the project and we work closely with gynaecologists and pediatricians as well as with a rehabilitation center for drug dependant people.


In the near future we plan to expand the project to a branch of the AIDS center, to infectious disease offices, and to other rehabilitation centers.”


Daria (Khabarovsk):


“Here is how the project went in November: the month was dedicated to getting all the matters of the project organized. On the 4th of November I had a meeting at the AIDS center with a gynaecologist and a nurse. I told them about how the project will continue its work and we discussed the main aspects, my timetable, and talked about what the best method of communication is for each of us. I asked the nurse to hand out my business card to women.


Then I met with infectious diseases doctors and also informed them of the project. Additionally I brought some business cards to the maternity ward at the municipal hospital n.11. The doctors at maternity ward are already familiar with me since the pediatricians from the AIDS center often go there and our women tend to give birth in that branch. I met the Deputy Head of the obstetrician and observation department there. I was greeted with warmth everywhere. The issue of where I will counsel in the maternity ward has yet to be resolved, but it is being discussed.


And so, I will counsel at the AIDS center on Tuesdays from 9am to 4pm and on Thursdays I will counsel at the maternity ward from 9am to 4pm. I’m in the mood to get down to work.”


Aleksandra (Nizhny Novgorod):


“In November the informational component of the project was finalized:


Information about our project has been posted on the AIDS center website under the “news” tab.


Small cards were created and printed and they have been distributed among gynaecologist, pediatrician, and narcologist offices.


A poster (size А3) to be hung in the AIDS center was developed with a brief description of the project and contact information.


Conversations with the Head Doctor are underway regarding the office that will be used to counsel.


A plan is in place to conduct work on women’s access to rehabilitation centers for drug dependent people and to mutual support groups.”


Maria (Saint Petersburg):


“The Head Doctor at the AIDS Center, D.A. Gusev, gave an order for a name tag to be made for me. Unfortunately, as of now I have not secured a separate office to meet with clients. Currently I am holding sessions in the maternal and child branch, in an accessible location for patients not far from the check-in counter. The plan for the future is to expand the work of the project to the maternity ward of the Botkin Infectious Diseases Hospital.


My business cards are handed out by infectious diseases doctors at the AIDS Center as well as in regional infectious disease offices and by specialists in the regional Social Assistance Centers for Families and Children. Furthermore, there is information about me posted on social media.”


Valentina (Ekaterinburg):


“Work is underway at the 2nd branch of the AIDS Center twice a week for 7 hours both days. One day is designated for stationary counseling at the center. The second day is for patronage visits to clients as determined by pediatricians.


Patronage includes HIV positive children up to age three and their mothers (who are often pregnant again). In general the children are not adherent to ARVT and their mothers do not visit the infectious diseases offices at all. I travel to their homes, counsel them, and sometimes bring the family to the doctor and accompany them from one office to another.


A good relationship has been established with the multiprofessional team at the AIDS center; the team consists of a pediatrician, a nurse, a psychologist, a social worker, and a peer counselors. We meet together at least once per week and discuss the plans for managing families and children.


We plan to collaborate with a non-profit organization called New Life. They are a great resource; they have group for children and also they provide some food. We plan to introduce the families to this organization.”


More information about the work of the peer counselor in Vladivostok can be read here Of Equal Status.


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