the goal of HIV treatment is to find the right medications at the right
dosage that will bepowerful enough to fight HIV, but won't cause too many side effects
For Africans living in Europe who have a communicable or chronic condition, there are a number of factors that restrict their attendance of ongoing medical care and monitoring, as well as starting and adhering to treatment:
Language barriers between the patient and healthcare professional can prohibit the patient from asking questions about their condition and acquiring all of the information relevant to their needs. This is disempowering and results in the patient lacking understanding concerning their condition, prevention of secondary transmission, the opportunity to choose the most appropriate treatment options, the importance of adhering to their particular treatment regimen; as well as the tools to live well with their condition.
Certain African communities are opposed to scientific medicines and prefer to trust in traditional or herbal remedies and/or religious and spiritual guidance to relieve them of their afflictions. Such beliefs can lead to Africans living in Europe solely relying on alternative remedies or using alternative remedies alongside prescribed treatments that can interact with their medication.
It is often the case that Africans living in Europe are arriving from cultures where healthcare professionals are not to be questioned or challenged in their approaches. This attitude can prohibit patients from demanding the care and treatment options most suitable for their individual requirements, which can result in non-adherence; and leaving them unable to seek justice if they are discriminated against by specialist and non-specialist healthcare professionals, deterring patients from attending their medical appointments.
Due to the stigma surrounding communicable and chronic illness within African communities, patients often struggle to overcome the obstacles to accessing information, support, attending testing to evaluate disease progression, and to start and adhere to treatment; as well as to steer the everyday practicalities of living with their condition, such as dealing with disclosure, navigating healthy sexual relationships and responding to real and perceived discrimination.
Poverty and social deprivation can have a tremendous impact upon a patient’s ability to attend medical appointments, store their medication, and to adhere to treatment correctly and consistently.
At EATAN we are motivated to assist African patients who are living in Europe to overcome the barriers to receiving ongoing healthcare and starting and adhering to treatment.
A Treatment Advocate can perform an integral role to encourage and empower patient-clients to take control of their health and well-being through better understanding their condition, to learn of the various available treatment options and be supported to adhere to their medication; achieved through providing a sanctuary free from fear of stigma and discrimination to discuss a range of issues and develop coping tools. Furthermore, as a patient champion, Treatment Advocates are enabled the opportunity to learn about the particular challenges faced by their individual patient-clients and if necessary, to liaise with healthcare professionals, social services and other community support services.
Training Treatment Advocates
In order for Treatment Advocates to be equipped with the knowledge and skills to effectively support Africans patients who are living in Europe, EATAN offers a two-day training course for Treatment Advocates, additional opportunities for continuing development throughout the year, as well as access to up-to-date research and resources through EATAN’s website.
Training supports Treatment Advocates to understand the socio-cultural complexities that accompany the responses of Africans living in Europe to their diagnosis and treatment adherence.
Treatment Advocates are provided detailed information regarding the specific communicable or chronic condition(s) they are tasked with; including transmission and acquisition, diagnosis, the short and long-term effects on health and well-being, deciphering the meaning behind test results, prevention of secondary transmission, the psycho-social responses to ill health, treatment options and consequences to non-adherence.
Treatment Advocates are supplied with an advocacy tool-kit that includes the questionnaires to be used during preliminary assessment with patient-clients, monitoring and evaluation sheets, as well as contact details of social and community support services in their area; while EATAN staff are on hand to continually support Treatment Advocates in their roles through answering queries and offering advice.
We aim to bring various stakeholders together to propel the training experience for Treatment Advocates; through delivering presentations provided by experts in the field, including patients, academics, human rights activists, medical professionals, scientists and pharmaceutical representatives.
Positive Peer Mentors
Positive Peer Mentoring involves a person who is living with a communicable or chronic condition providing structured one-to-one emotional support to another person living with the same condition(s), and who shares similar socio-cultural-familial experiences. EATAN believes in the considerable benefits of peer mentoring; since mentors have an invaluable knowledge regarding what it is like to live with their condition; have overcome the challenges to monitoring and treatment adherence; and therefore can offer advice and assist their mentee to develop coping strategies; while appreciating the need to be non-judgemental and the importance of confidentiality.
Training Positive Peer Mentors
Positive Peer Mentors often have no formal education and training in counselling and other psycho-therapies and therefore we require prospective mentors to attend a one-day training session that enables their knowledge, skills and confidence to offer effective support that can result in mentees developing the skills to become independent and achieve happy, healthy and fulfilling lives.
Training involves developing Positive Peer Mentors’ comprehension and ability in following the principles of active listening, protecting their mentee’s confidentiality, establishing boundaries, maintaining personal safety, as well as issues surrounding vulnerable persons, depression and suicidal feelings.
EATAN has created a series of modules that contain a variety of suggested conversation starters covering a range of topics relevant to the particular communicable or chronic condition. This includes primary introductions; communicable or chronic condition history-taking; self-esteem; physical health; treatment and adherence; the condition and others; the condition and the world; goal building; and social responsibility.
Positive Peer Mentors are offered on-going support through the Online Peer Mentorship Forum, where they have opportunity to share tips and tools.