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Date: 1 June 2020

Time: 07:04

Image: members of the peer mentor scheme

HIV patients offered extra support

Story posted/last updated: 09 January 2020

People living with HIV are being offered the chance to take part in a new scheme which can provide them with one-to-one support from other patients.

The offer of help comes from a group of HIV patients who are members of a UHB patient forum.

This was set up two years ago for people who receive their HIV treatment at Heartlands – and it has recently expanded to cover the whole of UHB.

It’s a small, diverse group and is described as ‘’like a family’’ by those who attend meetings once every six weeks. It meets in an informal environment so that patients can give their views about the service.

Now this group is launching a peer mentor scheme which offers patients the chance to get special support.

Two of the trained peer mentors Tom Matthews and Rachel Greaves believe this will be of huge benefit to people living with HIV in Birmingham and Solihull.  

The group is looking to spread the word about the new initiative to ensure it reaches the people who most need it.

Tom and Rachel say the benefits of peer mentoring are “incalculable” and provide something extra that is complementary to people’s treatment.

It can ease their fears, reduce isolation and build trust and resilience.

Importantly, peer mentoring can also help people understand their treatment better, giving people  the chance to talk to someone who understands what it is like being on the medication needed to treat HIV.

Tom said that sometimes people can get “pill fatigue” and want to come off their drugs - but being able to talk to another patient about the importance of their medication could make a huge difference to their health.

Another knock-on effect of peer mentoring is that it can improve people’s relationships with friends, loved ones and family.

Angela McKenna-Hylton, Operational Manager for Infectious Diseases, HIV, Immunology and Allergy, said that peer mentors could meet people at the clinic or could communicate via email or text or on the phone.

For more information, or to contact the peer mentors, please contact Angela McKenna-Hylton or Tom Matthews.

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