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Care and Support to People Living with HIV/AIDS

In February 2003, the American Red Cross (ARC) in collaboration with the Russian Red Cross (RRC) launched the ‘Care and Support Project for People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA)’ in Irkutsk City, which aims to improve the quality of life of PLWHA, including HIV positive pregnant women and children born to HIV positive mothers. Over the past three years, the project has targeted over 18,000 beneficiaries in Irkutsk city and the surrounding region. View the Project's Annual Report for 2006
RRC/ Irkutsk regional branch helps low-income families with children born to HIV-positive mothers through “Care and Support Project for People Living with HIV/AIDS” project. In the picture, visiting nurse Olga Oreshnikova gives a food parcel and makes recommendations about vitamins to a woman with a 3 1/2-year-old child.
The Care and Support Program has five objectives:

Objective 1: Put into practice and improve healthy life style (healthy diet, appropriate care, adequate therapy, safe behavior) for people living with HIV/AIDS;
Objective 2: Decreased internal stigma and fear among people living with HIV/AIDS;
Objective 3: Reduced risk of mother to child transmission of HIV;
Objective 4: Improved physical and psychological development of children (0-6 years of age) born to HIV positive mothers;
Objective 5: Replicate project activities and scale up the experience of the RRC Irkutsk regional branch in fighting HIV/AIDS in other regions of the Russian Federation.

To accomplish these objectives, the program uses an information and counseling center called ICC "Steps" and the RRC’s visiting nurse service.
The visiting nurse service provides HIV positive pregnant women and new mothers the following:
Home care visits
Distribution of food parcels and vitamins to HIV positive pregnant women and children
Counseling services on nutrition, mother to child transmission, and HIV-related topics

The following services are offered at ICC "Steps":

  • Psychological counseling for PLWHA and their families by an adult/child psychologists
  • Distribution of food parcels and vitamins to HIV positive pregnant women and children
  • Consultation with a nurse on nutritional or home care issues
  • Basic information about HIV/AIDS prevention and transmission
  • Legal advice and assistance for PLWHA
  • Peer support group for PLWHA
  • Trainings for caregivers on home-based care for PLWHA
  • HIV information 'Hotline'

A consultant- psychologist and a peer consultant (an HIV-positive young woman) together with an outreach worker discuss a work plan to reach the most inaccessible target group – commercial sex workers. RRC/Irkutsk, implements several programs for care and support to PLWHA . Together, these programs allow the Red Cross staff and volunteers to meet the needs of vulnerable populations and at-risk populations affected by HIV in Irkutsk.
The Care and Support program has also developed a home-based care manual for PLWHA. The target group for this manual is visiting nurses and caregivers, generally family members of PLWHA. The HIV home-based care module complements an existing home-based care manual used by Russian Red Cross visiting nurses.
The experiences of the Care and Support program have underscored the necessity of addressing HIV-related stigma and discrimination of PLWHA, health care workers, and the public. The program has initiated several HIV de-stigma activities and is looking for opportunities to expand these activities.

Main Achievements for 2006

A total of 599 children (50 percent of those born to HIV positive mothers in Irkutsk or 27 percent of all the children living in the Irkutsk region) have received care from the Visiting Nurse Service since 2003. In 2006, 377 of them were provided with our services.
A total of 281 pregnant women have been under the patronage of Visiting Nurse Service. In 2006, 148 of them were provided with our services.
The clients of the program received a total of 2528 food parcels. The children received 578 vitamin supplements and the pregnant women received 192 multivitamin supplements.

In 2006, visiting nurses made 2187 home based visits.

The number of clientele visits to ICC “Steps”, increased from 2398 in 2005 to 3207 in 2006.

An increase in the number of clients who visit the ICC for the first time has been observed as well. There were 439 primary visits made in 2006 as compared to 359 in 2005.

As before, the rate of follow up visits is quite significant and makes 86 percent. A total of 1284 clients have visited “Steps” ICC since 2003.

The number of calls to the Hotline reached 2839 in 2006 as compared to 2466 in 2005. The total number of calls has equaled to 7603 since 2003.

Majority of clients (84 percent) of the ICC and the Hotline are women.

In 2006, the specialists of the ICC “Steps” conducted aover 2100 counseling sessions, which made 39 percent of all the counseling sessions (5404) carried out during four years. As before, the services of the psychologist and the counselor on HIV/AIDS issues are the most demanded-37 percent and 28 percent, respectively.

Clientele of the ICC consists of mostly (74 percent) HIV positive people. The rest (26 percent) are either family members or people who avoid disclosing their status.

For more information about the Project, contact: Dr. Anna Zagainova, Program Manager, Care & Support Project for PLWHA

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