The Psychosocial Support division at MUJHU comprises the Health visiting, Counseling, Community and Psychosocial Units. This division comprises:
We ensure that the social, psychological and economic wellbeing of research and program participants including children are well catered for in order to provide holistic care and support.
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The MU-JHU staff includes health visitors who help to provide follow-up for participants enrolled in MU-JHU studies and programs.
They serve the roles of Public health nurse/midwife, social worker, family counsellor, teacher and home visitor. Most health visitors are assigned a geographical area from which they recruit and follow up on mothers enrolled in MU-JHU studies and programs. One health visitor is permanently stationed at the Mulago antenatal clinic to provide teaching on topics such as family planning, nutrition, HIV/AIDS prevention and transmission, and breastfeeding.
Health visitors are also involved in the screening, enrollment, and follow-up of patients for participation in MU-JHU research and programs. By visiting participants in their homes, health visitors are able to trace women to their homes and to develop a close personal relationship with the participants, providing additional psychosocial support, increasing adherence to antiretroviral and other drugs and increasing retention of study participants.
The MU-JHU Peer Psychosocial Support Group was started in July 2003 with five core couples from the MTCT Plus program in an effort to create a support network for women and families infected and affected by HIV. It has since expanded to serve members from all MU-JHU studies and programs and membership has grown from twenty people in 2003 to over 300 today. People with HIV/AIDS (PHA) families and their communities meet at the centre of the program and help to determine and carry out activities that will best help people coping with HIV/AIDS.
The Psychosocial Support Group offers peer counselling to help families cope better with the impact of HIV/AIDS on their lives. Through activities such as peer counselling, testimonies and role-playing, these groups help mothers to disclose their status to their spouses and children when they are ready. While the support group initially focused on serving women with HIV, the larger needs of the community led to the formation of support groups for both children and fathers. Currently, the psychosocial program extends support to the entire family and is divided into six sub-groups
Women from MU-JHU studies are trained as HIV peer counsellors to support newly diagnosed HIV-positive mothers from the Mulago PMTCT program
Members are trained to conduct outreach services in the community
A post-test club that encourages male participation
Supports the psychosocial and prevention needs of discordant couples
Encourages adherence to ARVs
Caters to the specific needs of HIV-positive children and adolescents. Begun in 2005 with just five children, it has grown to include close to 350 children/Adolescents and youth in the program today.