XVIII International AIDS Conference


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Standing up for our rights - an intervention that promoted HIV-positive caregivers and their children to plan for their future and play a more active role in their community

J. Mukherjee1,2,3, E. Eustache4, C. Oswald1, P. Surkan5, E. Louis4, F. Scanlan1, R. Wong2, M. Li2, M. Smith Fawzi1,2,3

1Partners in Health, Boston, United States, 2Harvard Medical School, Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, Boston, United States, 3Brigham and Women's Hospital, Division of Global Health Equity, Boston, United States, 4Zanmi Lasante Sociomedical Complex, Cange, Haiti, 5John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Department of International Health, Baltimore, United States

Issues: Given the increased access to ART in the developing world, an illness that once ensured a fatal outcome has now become a chronic disease. Individuals and families who have access to ART in resource-poor settings now face a different set of challenges?those that mirror the difficulties of living with a chronic illness that often results in isolation and discrimination from the community.
Description: A psychosocial support group intervention, Project TALC (Teens and Adults Learning to Communicate), was piloted in central Haiti with the goal of reducing psychological distress, enhancing psychosocial functioning, and strengthening HIV-affected families to enable them to play a more active role in the community. Youth affected by HIV/AIDS 10-17 years of age and their HIV-positive caregivers were enrolled at six Partners In Health/Zanmi Lasante (PIH/ZL) sites in central Haiti, a resource-poor setting.
Lessons learned: HIV-affected youth and their parents demonstrated reduced psychological symptoms and enhanced psychosocial functioning during the intervention period. In particular, youth and parents noted improved relationships with each other, resulting in less conflict and greater collaboration. Improved social support, enhanced coping skills, and reduced HIV-related stigma were also observed. Youth expressed playing a more active role in protecting themselves from HIV and many felt more optimistic about their future. HIV-positive caregivers reported that they felt less isolated within their families and communities and were better able to confront stigma and discrimination related to their illness.
Next steps: HIV-positive caregivers who participated were more hopeful about their future, engaged in the community, and requested opportunities for income generating activities (IGA). Youth expressed the intent of remaining in school and working towards their future. PIH/ZL plans to expand access to this program as well as introduce an IGA component to the intervention to further enhance active participation of HIV-affected families in their communities.

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