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Peer Support: A Critical Piece of the Puzzle

Peers play a critical role in the care of people living with HIV and helping them navigate their health care. This fall, AIDS United began an initiative through HRSA’s Special Projects of National Significance replicating four linkage and retention in care interventions, one on which focuses specifically on the integration of peer support for women of color living with HIV.

Peers lend emotional, practical, and social support to clients and health care teams and we are excited to support organizations integrate peers into their system of care! We’ve seen the incredible work that peers can do and their ability to engage with and support other people living with HIV, drawing on their own life experiences. As one of the peers said about her motivation to do this work, “I do this work because HIV is a part of my life and I will be part of the solution!”

One things that peers have a unique ability to do—in addition to providing support, guidance and information—is to provide hope. The women who will receive services through this new initiative may be juggling competing priorities such as caring for children and other family members, work, even addressing basic needs such as adequate housing. Having a peer in their corner to encourage and support them in taking care of their health can make all the difference.

Peers will conduct outreach to women who have fallen out of care, provide appointment reminders, transportation assistance, accompany their clients to medical visits, and help link them to other needed services. Simultaneously, by being open with their status as women living with HIV, peers will help combat HIV stigma that the women they’re supporting may be facing. In other words, they’ll help women navigate many of the biggest barriers people living with HIV face to engaging in medical care.

We’re in the beginning stages of this new initiative, and the impact that the peers on the lives of the women they are working with is just beginning. We look forward to sharing these stories with you as the project moves forward and are grateful for the opportunity to support women living with HIV through this critical work.

Posted By: Erin Nortrup, Director of Program Operations - Wednesday, March 22, 2017

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