New skills in HIV and other STIs Test Counselling for Niue Health Professionals

ImageFifteen Niue health workers, including doctors, nurses and midwives, took part recently in an introductory programme on counselling related to HIV and other STI tests. The programme for hospital-based staff was held in Niue in late November 2007.

The four-day interactive workshop was facilitated by Alistair MacDonald from SPC’s HIV & STI Section. It was officially opened and closed by Niue’s Premier, the Honorable Young Vivian, whose presence underscored his government's commitment to preventing the spread of HIV infection in Niue, a Pacific country that has yet to report a case of the infection.  But in closing the meeting, the Premier commented that 'it would only be a matter of time' before Niue reported its first HIV case.

 

Premier Vivian noted that Niue citizens of all ages are highly mobile with many undertaking regular international travel. This, coupled with the Pacific region’s relatively high levels of other STIs and risk behaviours leaves many people vulnerable to infection with HIV. Access to high-quality, confidential HIV counselling and testing is considered a key step in preventing the spread of HIV and in helping people diagnosed with HIV access treatment, care and support.


The workshop was the first part of a two-stage training programme presenting the latest information on HIV and other STIs, their transmission, and the skills that a health professional needs to effectively counsel a person on testing for HIV antibodies and other STIs.

The introductory training gave participants the opportunity to play the role of both an HIV test counsellor and a client seeking counselling for a test. Observing their colleagues and playing the different roles themselves made participants acutely aware of the challenges of providing effective HIV test counselling, including the need for considerable technical knowledge and a high level of skill and sensitivity in discussing difficult issues such as sexual behaviour, relationships and the stigma and discrimination commonly associated with HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.


The second part of the HIV and other STIs Test Counselling training programme, which is planned for early 2008, will further develop the skills of the participating health professionals. The Niue Health Department hopes that the availability of well-trained and supportive staff will encourage people who are concerned about HIV or other STIs to feel more able to seek help and advice at Nuie's Foou Hospital.

 


 

 

For more information, please contact

 

Alistair Mac Donald,

Counselling Development Officer,

HIV & STI Section, Public Health Programme, SPC
Ph: + 687 26 67 84,

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 CRGA

 

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