Regional social center «Renasterea» for people living with HIV was opened in Chisinau in February 2013. Today, the center provides a variety of psychosocial services for people living with HIV and their family, relatives and children. Alina Cojocari is one of the workers of the center. She told us in detail why the center was opened and what are the goals of employees working with people living with HIV.
Alina, tell me please, how people get to the center?
In several ways: according to the project, we are working with infectious disease specialists from regional clinics. If it is necessary, they may redirect patients to us. Also, people can get to our center directly from the department of the Republican STI clinic. And again, a doctor or an employee of organization «Credinta», which provides consultations in the STI clinic, can also direct patients to us. If a person came without a doctor’s referral, for example, he heard somewhere about us and decided to come, in this case we check the diagnosis of that person. We call the department or a clinic and we define whether that person is registered. But we do so only with a written consent of that person.
From what regions people are coming?
Almost 80% – people from Chisinau. The other 20% – residents of the nearby suburbs and districts: Calarasi, Ungheni, Ialoveni, Kriulent, Stefan Voda, Hincesti, Straseni, Căuşeni, Anenii Noi, Rezina, Teleneşti, Orhei, Soldanesti, Nisporeni.
As far as I understand, for each beneficiary you open a new case, right?
Everyone who was addressed to us fills out a questionnaire, which includes all the information about him. The same person signs an agreement that he will receive a certain package of services. If a beneficiary needs more serious help, we discuss his case at a meeting of a multidisciplinary team, and then we compile a personal case management, where we schedule all the problems and possible solutions. In this case, different specialists are getting involved and each of them is responsible for a particular problem.
How many beneficiaries do you have at the moment?
Since the beginning of this year (January-August 2014) 535 people have used services in our center. In last year – 961 people.
What kind of services?
First of all, it is psycho-social support: support groups, counseling psychology, medical consultation, legal consultation (twice a month a lawyer gives free consultation in our center) or “peer to peer” consultation. Also, we provide an escort service. That is, if a person is seriously ill and he cannot leave the house on his own, we come to check his social level and we provide consultation directly at his place. We can also take him to some social or medical institutions, if he needs to. We also have a gym, a children’s room, a shower and a washing machine. In addition to scheduled groups and consultations, we are trying to arrange for our beneficiaries small festivals or picnics. This summer, for example, they had the opportunity to go to the monasteries.
You also provide food packages. According to what criteria you hand them over?
A person should be our beneficiary, should take ARV treatment and be committed to treatment. Food packages are issued in order to improve the quality of nutrition for people taking antiretroviral treatment, and are issued once in four months.
In addition to food packages, we also have the opportunity to provide free transport for our beneficiaries. For example, there are some people who have problems with walking or taking a local transport. We collect them all in one day and bring to the hospital for analyzes, and then we bring them back to their homes.
Among the beneficiaries of the center there are children living with HIV. What services are provided for them?
All of them receive food packages and twice a year they get clothes for free in one of the shopping centers in Chisinau. Free clothes will be available only until the end of 2015, we do not know what will be later. Also, a child psychologist is working with children and their parents. Workers of our center try to keep in touch with each parent of a child living with HIV, in order to explain how to prepare their child to disclosure the diagnosis.
How do your clients know about the schedule of support groups, etc.?
All the necessary information we publish in the lobby, we change the information at the beginning of each month. In addition, the workers of our center call their clients before and invite them to the groups.
Can someone get tested for HIV in your center?
We have free rapid testing. It means, a person is providing a sample of saliva, and in 15 minutes we can detect if there are antibodies to HIV. However, this test is not 100% accurate and it needs to be confirmed with a blood test.
Is there any generally accepted postulate for the workers of the center?
In our work, there are four basic principles: we need to focus all its resources and efforts on beneficiaries; all our clients need to understand that they have equal opportunities; we must be accessible for our clients and provide them access to other services; and of course – privacy, we have no right to disclose the client’s HIV status and his personal data. Regarding the goals of our center; first of all, we help people to accept their diagnosis, we provide them AVR-treatment, and we tell them about their rights and know how to defend them. This is our job.