University of Nairobi Bachelor of Arts (Psychology and Sociology Majors), 3rd year
Kisumu, October-December 2014
I joined FACES for a two-month period and worked in the Social Sciences Department (SSD). During my time at FACES, I conducted HIV education classes, attended defaulter classes, worked at the vitals desk and assisted in the psychosocial counseling room where family planning, couples testing and counseling, defaulter counseling as well as normal patients reviews took place. I joined FACES because I was interested in providing psychosocial counseling for purposes of finding out why there are increasing number of defaulter and high viral load cases.
HIV infection affects all dimensions of a person’s life: physical, psychological, social and spiritual. Counseling and social support can help people and their caregivers cope more effectively with each stage of the infection and enhance quality of life. With adequate support, PLWHA are more likely to be able to respond adequately to the stress of being infected and are less likely to develop serious mental health problems. For both individuals and their partners and families, psychosocial support can assist people in making informed decisions, coping better with illness and dealing more effectively with discrimination. It improves the quality of their lives, and prevents further transmission of HIV infection.
Through counseling many clients, I found that most of those who defaulted did so due to simple reasons like forgetting or not being in town on their appointment day. However, there were also clients who lost hope and wanted to give up on treatment due to denial or stigma and discrimination. The high viral load cases were either due to lack of adherence to time, stress and depression resulting from denial, stigma and lack of social support. Listening to clients’ stories has made me a better listener, more understanding, more empathetic and improved my interpersonal skills.
Outside of my work with clients, I really enjoyed my time at FACES. Everyone from the SSD team to the ICT team was awesome. I did fun activities with fellow STEP students and learnt more about their cultures. STEP IS SUPER-AWESOME, YOU SHOULD TRY IT!!!!!!!!!!