Planning a new peer support service for people living with HIV in Wales: The first steps
29 November 2022
The potential for establishing a peer support service for people living with HIV in Wales has been highlighted in a study led by Cardiff University.
Peer support services are designed to help people connect with others who share an experience, often living with the same health condition such as, in this study, HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus). Peer support can play an important part in helping people adjust to a diagnosis, work out how to live well with their condition and stay connected with medical services.
Wales does not have a peer support service for people living with HIV: Developing this service is one of the 26 actions outlined in the Welsh Government draft HIV Action Plan for Wales 2022 to 2026, with the aims of eliminating new HIV infections, improving quality of life and end stigma by 2030.
“Developing a high-quality peer support service takes time, but this study is a really important first step” said Dr Sue Channon, Senior Research Fellow at Cardiff University’s Centre of Trials Research, who led the study, which was funded by Public Health Wales.
A systematic review of the research made clear that as well as having a positive impact on physical health, peer support can be effective in helping reduce stigma as well as improve mental well-being for people living with HIV.
The findings from interviews and surveys with people living with HIV in Wales and people providing services showed that development of a peer support service for people living with HIV in Wales would be broadly welcomed. These stakeholders identified some core principles of the service and how a host organisation might go about establishing the service, which will need to be adaptable to fit with different people's situations.
There were notes of caution, that this cannot be a short-term project: It must be clear that it is a long-term, sustainable service so that people can build up trust in it, and Wales must learn from all the work that has gone before.
The Centre for Trials Research at Cardiff University is core funded by Welsh Government through Health and Care Research Wales and Cancer Research UK.