Hospital Peer Support

Although the services of treatment, support and assistance were more widespread, but PLHIV are still faced with many challenges and obstacles to obtaining these services, particularly services for financial assistance, social and psychology.


Since some period of years, more attention is given to recognize and incorporating a peer support program to help in the continuum of support and assistance to PLHIV.  Involvement and peer approach, particularly in hospitals, and home visits appears more proven its effectiveness in improving adherence to treatment and can also influence behaviour change required to undergo a more positive life.


In the early epidemic of HIV/AIDS in Malaysia, before treatment is given for free, and outreach related services is still not widespread, PLHIV support groups rely heavily on small-scale aid to understand their health condition.  Currently, the treatment has been given free, and many programs treatment, care and support that have been implemented.  But, as in the early epidemic in ’80s, interest is still strong on support group and cannot be disputed in helping PLHIV, families and their friends in social, education and medication aspects.  Support groups can reduce feelings of loneliness often felt by PLHIV – well physically or emotionally, and able to empower them to lead a positive life.


For many PLHIV, a peer support group is the first place where they can share with others their status, and meet with others PLHIV.  When a group of PLHIV can share the anxiety, fear and any other question, it is able to empower themselves, respectively, because they then realize that many PLHIV who have been through the same process, have been overcome successfully.


Among the topics are often discussed in the support group are about the ways of HIV transmission, treatment options, treatment side effects, hospitals and clinics that offer treatment and methods of safer sex practices.  Most of PLHIV, the support group is the safest place for them to discuss the topic with more openly.


Support groups are often seen as one method of treatment for PLHIV – without prescription!  This is because the support group members will obtain more benefits together only with other PLHIV, and thus can control and manage their health more effectively. The value of support groups cannot be trivialized and set aside.


Definition of Program Peer Hospital Support Group


A trained team who work in hospitals to help provide services and support to PLHIV, and help in daily work at the hospital associated with PLHIV.  This Peer support also implemented of home visit program.



  1. Giving moral support to patients who come to the clinic for treatment
  2. Provide information and explain the guidelines and policies related to the clinic, the patient or client and also a support group to help patients do not feel afraid or awkward to get treatment, help and support from hospital
  3. Provide basic information about HIV/AIDS, safe sex, sexual reproductive health and opportunistic infections
  4. Complement the counseling services offered at the hospital
  5. To assist the clinic staff to ensure that the needs of patients/clients and matters that affect patients
  6. Improve information on treatment/adherence HAART medication


Why there should be support groups in hospitals?

  1. Number of patients receiving HAART treatment is growing rapidly and will continue to increase
  2. Adherence to HAART intake was complex accomplished through by own self
  3. Staff at the hospital are not enough to meet the needs of patients to HAART treatment adherence and support to them


Criteria as a peer support


  1. A person living with HIV (PLHIV) for effective sharing of positive life
  2. Responsible for the work done
  3. Be open, no prejudice to entertain all the PLHIV
  4. Sincere and honest in work responsibilities
  5. Good and calibre personal lives and can be seen as a role model to the patient/client
  6. Be patient to help PLHIV according to their own step
  7. Able to pay attention to the PLHIV client
  8. Very concerned in maintaining the confidentiality of client
  9. Knowledgeable and able to assist clients with a network of related support


Responsibilities of a peer support


  1. 1. Practical support


Bring new client to the specialist clinic and help them to get services such as:

a)      Blood test

b)      X-ray (Scope, CT scan and related others)

c)      Medication treatment

d)      Check-in registration as patient

e)      Referral to get help from other medication with related


2.  Emotional support

a)      A peer support is a safe place where PLHIV can express their problems and share all the tangles that are playing in their mind.  Listen to their stories and try to understand the emotional problem faced by the patient/client.

b)      Assist to reduce the client’s emotional problems by sharing your personal experience.  Member of support group will help learn from each other’s way to accept their HIV status and live positively.  At the same time, client will get strength and acceptance that they are not alone with their problems.


3.  Providing Information


a)      Basic HIV/AIDS information (mode of transmission, risky behaviours, more secure way of life, etc.)

b)      Health care and how to achieve optimal health

c)      Adherence to treatment prescribed by a doctor

d)      Taking medications according to the time and amount which be determined

e)      Related services (SOSCO, Baitulmal, EPF, etc.)


4.  Encourage a peer support group meetings

  1. If a patient/client appears to have self-confidence, encourage them to join a support group.  Tell them the advantages which can be obtained by joining a support group.
  2. Meetings involve between 3-15 people, where each peer will share their experiences living with HIV
  3. Meeting may involve a specialist or counselor to provide opinions and information in matters relating to:

a)      Compliance in taking ARV

b)      Side effects

c)      Acceptance of HIV status

d)      Other matters that require the expertise of a doctor or counsellor


5.  Home visits activities

A.  Objective Home visit

a)      understand the needs of patients and their families

b)      build a friendly relationship

c)      appropriate opportunity to learn about the environment, find ways to overcome common problems, encourage family participation in the activities of the patients

d)      support and referral to the related agencies to reduce the burden on family

e)      effective visit to enhance emotional mental development and physical condition the whole family

f)       know and understand the cultural, social and environmental conditions

g)      assess the elements that cause patients to feel bad about, the lack of a balanced diet, being abused or neglected by family


B.  Requirements

a)      often hospitalized or had just discharge from the ward

b)      no ability to independently

c)      seriously ill

d)      family just lost loved ones (patients) to AIDS

e)      often failed to meet an appointment at the clinic of infectious diseases

f)       serious chronic diseases

C.  Home visitation procedures

a)      clients referred by a doctor / counsellor

b)      preparation before the visit:

  1. i.            inform the patient, parent or family first
    1. contact by phone or letter a week or 10 days before the visit and a reminder was given a day or two days before the visit
    2. set an appointment that is suitable for family
    3. told the purpose of the home visit
    4. set a suitable time (example: 4.40pm – 5.30 pm)

c)   follow-up visit after the first visit



Work Ethic of Peer Support

  1. Understand the tasks to be done
  2. Know the boundaries/limitations of the job requirements. Do not enter the hospital staff area unless requested by them and do not hold the patient files
  3. Maintain the confidentiality of patient/client. If they refused to give personal information, do not force
  4. Do not provide information that is incorrect/false. if do not know, ask the expert
  5. refer to the medical officer/nurse about any concerns about the questions related to medical
  6. Do not make empty promises to the patient/client. pledge of all the promises made
  7. Follow the instructions of the procedures prescribed by the hospital management
  8. Observed behaviour in order to be in hospital/clinic
  9. Do not do any personal business while on duty in hospital

10.  Priority welfare of patients/clients

11.  Do not ask for any compensation/wages from the patient/client

12.  Wear appropriate and casual clothing. As an identifier, please use the name tag of your organization as a peer support.

Remember! As a peer support act to strengthen the relationship between patient and physician.  A peer support should not act as a mediator between the patient and the hospital agency.


Hospital Peer Support Program in Malaysia


Penang – CASP Perak – PKI
Klang Valley – PTF; KLASS; MTAAG Johor – ILZ
Terengganu – CAKNA Sabah – KASIH