6 months for self care: community-based recharging of the batteries for gay HIV+ men

Published: August 1, 2008

6 months for self care: community-based recharging of the batteries for gay HIV+ men

Issues: As a community-based association, AIDES collects testimonials from gay positive men all over France who have negative views of their lives, bodies and sexuality, compounded by the stigmatizing way people look at lipodystrophy and lipoatrophy. Whilst some give up all sexual activity, others adopt risky behaviours, going as far as rejecting prevention, poor observance and halting treatment. In an innovative response to these difficulties AIDES has developed a project to help positive Gay men recharge their batteries.

Description: The project has four steps.
1. Formation of a group of 12 positive Gay men with impaired quality of life.
2. A week’s break managed by 3 members of AIDES and a physiotherapist. Activities include walks, group support sessions on being gay and being positive and relaxation and massage.
3. In the four months following the break, focus groups go into the problems of health and prevention as well as other questions brought up during the week. Individual strategies to improve the quality of life are based on the life experiences of the group members.
4. five months after the break the end of the action is marked by a day’s evaluation.

Lessons learned: In nearly all the people we noted an improvement: treatment has been initiated, going back to work, renewed sex life, etc. For some the break was the first occasion to talk about their past in prostitution or about repeated risk taking. Progressively, participants started to talk about themselves and to project into the future. During the massage workshops, they got used to accepting body contact.

Next steps: Many avenues still remain to be explored in terms of evaluation. Longitudinal follow up of the participants, which is impossible for our association. We need to associate researchers in order to demonstrate the efficacy of the project and to adapt it to other PLWHA.

-Full abstract available at link below-

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