Supporting people living with HIV and substance use. Led by Change Grow Live, the biggest drug and alcohol charity in the UK, with Lewisham and Greenwich HIV Services (Alexis and Trafalgar clinics), King’s College Hospital, Guy’s and St Thomas (Harrison Wing), Bart’s NHS Trust; Mortimer Market, Royal Free and other HIV clinics across London.
There can be many battles to face when overcoming problems associated with drug and alcohol use. Led by Change Grow Live, the biggest drug and alcohol charity in the UK, this initiative focused on reducing barriers to HIV treatment for people with substance use issues.
About the project
The team worked with hospitals and HIV clinics to help the health professionals better understand the issues that may be impacting a patient’s treatment. The programme supported over 100 people to access testing and treatment and increased HIV status knowledge from 50% to 95%.
Life can be chaotic for someone having problems with drugs or alcohol (or both). If that person is also living with HIV, it makes managing their condition and staying on treatment particularly hard. Their health and quality of life ultimately suffers. Change grow live aimed to help people build a stable lifestyle and a stronger foundation for successfully managing their condition. Each person’s situation was unique.
What the project did
Advisors in the team worked closely with each individual to discover the issues that were preventing them from taking their medication. Once they understood the challenges, together they created a plan that ensured the right support was in place. This usually meant getting mental health support, and, depending on that person’s life, help from other local services to manage their health successfully.
The team also worked with HIV clinics to help its health professionals better understand the issues that may be impacting their patient’s treatment. Workers from Change, Grow, Live attend multidisciplinary team meetings at the HIV clinic. There they took part in discussions and offered insight that helped plan for patients who were having difficulties with drugs and alcohol.
HIV clinicians also joined in on advice sessions with Change, Grow, Live workers. This helped them learn more about supporting people who were experiencing difficulties with drugs and alcohol and the kinds of approaches people can benefit from.
“I was amazed by how much I learnt just by listening to how they conducted their session – the questions that were asked, the information that they gave the person. It’s helped me become much more effective with my patients.”
– Sarah Barber, HIV Clinician
Find out more about Change Grow Live’s work on their website: www.changegrowlive.org