The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a complex and lifelong health condition that requires frequent medical treatment. HIV-positive peers have the potential to support people living with HIV who are hospitalized by improving the transition from hospital inpatient care to home. Recommendations and experiences of Peer Volunteers were reviewed to develop a training curriculum for peer support in complex HIV care.
A community-clinical partnership designed a peer intervention program for people living with HIV who were hospitalized, titled the ART of Conversation. Five Peer Volunteers delivered the program. Peers were matched with, and met with, a participant prior to discharge and frequent phone contact following discharge. The 4-day Peer Volunteer training supported skill building in active listening, structuring a call, use of self, boundaries, and facilitating program closure. Peer Volunteers were interviewed prior and post-match. Analysis reviewed Peer Volunteer preparedness and areas for program improvement.
Peers noted participants felt affirmed in their experiences, tracked goals and progress of participants, built rapport through personal experience disclosures, and completed closure tasks. Peers struggled to maintain emotional connections over the phone and were concerned when participants were non-responsive. The article discusses the training program pilot and recommendations for practice. It also includes the full Peer Support Volunteer Training Manual.