IFGH 2012: PLHIV as Peer Counsellors in First Level Health Care Facilities in Haiti

January 30, 2012


Authors:Gahan B.

Author Affiliations:Concern Worldwide, Rouen University France

Option 2– Lessons from the field; project and programme evaluations; and syntheses or analyses Presented as – Oral Poster


Lack of human resources in the Haitian health sector and a lack of health personnel trained on HIV and AIDS has affected the roll-out of HIV counselling. Recruitment of people living with HIV as peer counsellors was seen as an appropriate option to tackle the overburden on the health system in Port au Prince.


Within this project, implemented pre-2010 earthquake, Concern Haiti partnered with a local association of people living with HIV (ASON) to recruit 15 peer counsellors (10 women and 5 men) in targeted slum areas of Port au Prince. Peer counsellors were trained by certified trainers to provide pre- & post-testing counselling and on-going support; and were supervised and received ongoing support from a Haitian psychologist.

Peer counsellor impacts:

  • Only 60% of counsellors were willing/ able to use personal health history with presenting new cases, 
due to self and community HIV-related stigma
  • Positive impact on the health status of counsellors and their quality of life (less isolation, increased 
  • Counsellors wish to reintegrate into the workforce and/or seek adult education training 

Benefits to the health centre are included:

  • Able to offer an community accessible ART programme
  • Availability of high quality counselling
  • Reduced HIV related stigma within their Health Centre 
Lessons learned: 
Involvement of people living with HIV as patient/caregivers can be a valuable strategy both to fill the need for increased healthcare providers in countries seeking to implement rapid ART scale up and to reintegrate people living with HIV into mainstream society. 


  • Advocate for the work of PLHIV Counsellors be legalised and training and management integrated into the health system
  • Provide ongoing training and offer psychological help to support counsellors in managing work
  • Establish management procedures and workplace policies that take into account the circumstances of 


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