Use of Community Health Support Workers for Persons Living With Human Immunodeficiency Virus in Rural Ethiopia: Lessons Learned*Corresponding Author: Alan R. Lifson, Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, University of Minnesota, 1300 S. Second Street, Suite 300, Minneapolis, MN 55454-1015, USA, Tel: 612-626-9697, Fax: 612-624-0315, Email: [email protected]
Received Date: May 19, 2014 / Accepted Date: Jun 30, 2014 / Published Date: Jul 15, 2014
Citation: Lifson AR, Workneh S, Hailemichael A, Demissie W, Slater L, et al. (2014) Use of Community Health Support Workers for Persons Living With Human Immunodeficiency Virus in Rural Ethiopia: Lessons Learned. J AIDS Clin Res 5:324.DOI: 10.4172/2155-6113.1000324
Copyright: © 2014 . This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Background: Health facilities in rural, resource limited settings face multiple challenges responding to a growing demand for HIV treatment, including lack of adequate numbers of trained health workers. Many programs have used community health support workers (CHSWs) to provide specific services related to HIV care, and to complement facility-based treatment.
Methods: In rural southern Ethiopia, 13 HIV-positive CHSWs were assigned to 142 newly diagnosed HIV patients from the same community to provide: education on HIV treatment and health promoting behaviors; counseling and social support; and linkage to the HIV Clinic.
Results: Lessons learned in planning and implementing CHSW programs for PLWH include the benefits of: involving local health bureaus, clinicians, and the community; careful recruitment processes and selection criteria for CHSWs; use of local PLWH as CHSWs to facilitate relationships with HIV-positive clients; initial and on-going training of CHSWs with didactic information and counseling skills; clearly defined responsibilities and regular, supportive supervision with constructive feedback; emphasizing importance of client confidentiality; and financial compensation for CHSWs.
Conclusion: Use of CHSWs can be an effective strategy to support the HIV health care system, and offers a strong complement to facility-based care in rural and other resource-limited settings. However, such programs may be most successful if they attend to the multiple issues described above in planning and implementation.