Social workers improve communication skills to assist people living with HIV
"People have very low awareness of what HIV is and that it is not as scary as they imagine"
“People have very low awareness of what HIV is and that it is not as scary as they imagine. Society has a perception that HIV always leads to death, as we often see terrifying images in media. This information only reinforces discrimination and stigma against people living with HIV, which creates a barrier for them to accept their status”, Munira Mahmudova, trainer.
Munira Mahmudova has a master’s degree in Social Work and practical experience in helping families with children in Tashkent. For more than three years, Munira has been sharing her knowledge and experience with students of the Mirzo Ulugbek National University of Uzbekistan. She conducts trainings for specialists providing social services and offers retraining courses in social work.
This year, after completing courses at Columbia University's School of Social Work, Munira was honored to lead training sessions for psychologists at AIDS Centers in Uzbekistan financed by UNICEF and UNAIDS. Munira was passing on her knowledge to develop communication skills, client involvement, and motivational interviews to offer better support to their clients.
Status acceptance is the biggest issue of working with this group of people since closed status makes it difficult for us to offer them support.
In the last six months, three trainings have been held for fifteen specialists working with various psychosocial problems of children. Particular attention was given to the work with HIV-positive people, considering the specific needs they have.
“Status acceptance is the biggest issue of working with this group of people since closed status makes it difficult for us to offer them support. Therefore, a specialist needs to have communication skills to convey information and motivate the client to change accurately and competently.
At trainings we pay special attention to this, and help specialists integrate listening and interviewing skills into their practice, demonstrating professionalism in behavior, communication with clients, and assessing people’s life situations.
Several trained psychologists, including specialists from AIDS centers, are already applying the new knowledge in practice. When approached by parents or children, they first assess the client's situation, which greatly helps to systematize the work and record the results. When communicating with their clients, psychologists pay more attention to expressing support and understanding, resulting in more trusting relationships, and turning into more positive results when working with children and their families.
Parents are always ashamed if their child has been diagnosed as HIV positive.
After each training, we conduct supervision for specialists to find out the effectiveness of applying new knowledge and skills. Due to the lack of uniform standards of work in each region, there are different approaches to the provision of psychosocial assistance. Supervisions allow us to discuss complex cases, jointly search for solutions with other specialists and systematize the work,” said Munira.
Muattar Ochilova is one of the trained psychologists, who is already putting her skills into practice with clients at the Kashkadarya Regional AIDS Center.
“Parents are always ashamed if their child has been diagnosed as HIV positive. They are afraid of discrimination and accusations against them and therefore refrain from visiting a doctor. They isolate the child, trying to protect him or her from bullying and discrimination.
Due to the lack of knowledge in society, HIV is perceived as a verdict, and this itself harms family life. Children and their parents fear for themselves and their loved ones, for broken relationships, and for dreams about the future. They are in fear and stressed that their diagnosis will be revealed. In this situation, a competent professional becomes the most important link that builds a bridge between a person and his environment. The specialist helps people, including children, living with HIV/AIDS to accept their situation, not despair, and to restore, and strengthen their resilience.
At the training, I learned about the importance of providing the right psychosocial assistance to children and adults living with HIV/AIDS and I look forward to further enhancing my knowledge and skills, as this area requires constant development.
The skills gained at this training will contribute to the provision of quality services not only to people living with HIV/AIDS but also to people with other psychosocial needs”, Muattar said.