Herts Aid offer a full range of confidential support services to Hertfordshire residents. This is provided to those living with, or affected by HIV, their partners and families.
HIV Specialist Support
Herts Aid staff are experienced in dealing with the range of HIV specific areas which people living with or affected by HIV can experience. This includes coping with and adjusting to a new diagnosis, medication adherence, disclosing HIV status to family, friends and work colleagues, managing stigma, self- stigmatisation and self- esteem.
Herts Aid recognises the many issues that can follow an HIV diagnosis; poor health, adherence to medication, understanding HIV and how HIV will affect the rest of your life, including relationships (personal and professional).
Partnering: Herts Aid support staff partner with other organisations and charities to ensure a full range of services are delivered by qualified, experienced and appropriate professionals.
The aim of our HIV support service is to empower our service users, by imparting useful knowledge and experience. This helps improve the management of HIV, access reliable information and gain the advice needed. Our service is free and confidential, and provided in a comfortable and safe environment.
HIV Support Services
Provided by specialist staff who support you throughout your journey.
Support includes face to face meetings to gauge the level of support needed creating an emotional and personal connection with the support team. Staff undertake needs assessments and weekly or monthly telephone calls to discuss progress and ensure you are living well with HIV.
Support is provided on a range of areas such as medication adherence, healthy eating, relationships, disclosure, discussing and recognising any other issues that may require signposting(advocacy) to specialist organisations. Herts Aid staff are supporting you every step of the way.
Range of organisations that we can signpost to and work with include:
- Citizens Advice Bureau
- Health Specialists
- Immigration Services
- Mental Health Services
- Drugs & Alcohol Services
- Employment Support
- Training and Education Support
- Financial Support Organisations
- Foodbank Vouchers
*Services are offered to Hertfordshire residents only.
“I am overwhelmed by your support – you have saved my life”
“You cheer me up & take away loneliness which really helps!”
Herts Aid run peer support groups for people living with or affected by HIV.
Support groups focus on a number of areas including health and wellbeing, personal development, benefits assistance, social and practical skills.
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“I found the workshop very interesting & I enjoyed the variety of issues addressed and the number of speakers. I would like to be part of the Project 100 course and the community mentoring programme.”
“I enjoyed meeting others with HIV & will use what I’ve learned to apply to myself and others.”
Advocacy is liaising with external parties on behalf of the service user
to achieve objectives on a support plan.
We gradually reduce our input over time (only if appropriate)
so the service user is able to deal with issues
independently in the future.
Range of support services
Provided to guide people through the challenges of living with HIV
Debt and Benefit Advice
“Thank you very much for arranging English classes for me and for the great experience of the Time for Me to Shine Personal Development Programme which helped me learn how to find a job and be independent.”
“Thank you for your support, contacting my clinic to rearrange appointments & liaising with medical professionals on my behalf.”
“Thanks for visiting me at hospital & all the calls you make”
Peer Support is available by staff and others who are living with HIV. They are able to listen and directly understand the potential impact of being HIV positive.
You can discuss many things you might not want to discuss with family, friends, professionals or other support services. This may be about relationships, disclosure of status, sex life, starting a family and the future.
Herts Aid can provide access to peer mentoring projects such as Project 100 through Positively UK. Training and support provided through peer mentoring enables people living with HIV to become qualified peer mentors.
Volunteers receive a recognised vocational qualification in mentoring while giving something back and supporting others.
Herts Aid offers small grants from our hardship fund or children’s fund for those who are in financial crisis.
We also refer to other agencies for hardship grants. All grants are subject to meeting financial eligibility.
We have access to all Hertfordshire Foodbank Schemes. We can administer vouchers to anybody who is experiencing financial hardship. This can be one off support or longer term, depending on circumstances.
Subject to availability, Herts Aid is able to assist people medically unfit to travel independently and need help with transport to and from appointments, attending support groups or other services.
“I’m really grateful for your support, I don’t know what I would’ve done without Herts Aid”
“Thank you for attending the benefit tribunal – you were very helpful.”
Weekly Clinic Attendance
Every week you can see one of Herts Aid’s HIV support team staff at Sexual Health Hertfordshire clinics. We attend the Watford Sexual health clinic on a Wednesday and Southgate, Stevenage on a Thursday. We are available between 1 and 4pm by appointment or drop in.
Herts Aid offers referrals to BACP accredited counsellors. The support team will research local services for your convenience or signpost to MIND, a Hertfordshire wide counselling service. You can also search the Counselling Directory.
We also have access to a grant for people who would benefit from therapies such as massage, Reiki and acupuncture to relieve stress, improve wellbeing & help alleviate health complaints.
We provide introduction workshops on various types of therapies to enable you to choose a therapy most suited to your needs.
S attended Herts Aid Introduction to Shiatsu workshop. S had never experienced Shiatsu and was initially nervous. S provided Herts Aid with feedback below following the workshop:
“The workshop was very interesting, I feel relaxed and calm. It was helpful and enjoyable and I would like to pursue Shiatsu further.”
Living with HIV
Living with HIV means something different to everybody.
Whether you are newly diagnosed, have lived with HIV for some time or would like to find out more, we provide a range of confidential services tailored to suit your needs.
Watch These Videos
Thank you to the Terrence Higgins Trust for providing these videos.
Herts Aid Case Studies
HIV and the Employment Search
“When my job contract came to an end, it increasingly became difficult to get employment. This was partly due to my low esteem and fear of how the world views me as someone living with HIV. I would pass some jobs up, imagining such an organisation may not take me if they learn that I am living with HIV. On the other hand, indirectly, I missed out on opportunities. This was due to being judged, not only on my handicap, age but also my HIV status as I live openly with HIV…
Terrence Higgins Trust
Helen decided to seek help from Terrence Higgins Trust(THT). They have a Work Positive Program where, in addition to training members in different skills, supports the participant to find a volunteer placement.
“Here I was told that a certain organisation had looked at my CV and would like to meet me. I was told there is a possibility they would take me on, but I was doubtful. I entered the doors of Herts Aid. Am I too old? Do they think I will be sick often due to HIV? Will they believe that I have something to contribute to society?
My First Meeting with Herts Aid
During my very first meeting the heavy cloud of doubt started clearing. At last I was in front of people who are looking for my capability. My HIV status, my age, my handicap were almost insignificant.
The meeting, which was supposed to be an interview, felt like a conversation and yes, about what I can offer, what they can offer and how we can gain from each other.
With my low esteem, I thought being a volunteer would mean each time I came in I would need to wait to be assigned some tasks. Then someone would be hovering on my shoulder, to see if I had what it takes.
No! Herts Aid made me part of its workforce, whose purpose is to support people living with HIV, through promotion of self-care management and advocacy.
Positive Guidance & Support
I contributed with independence and professional guidance. During the weekly reviews I thought it would be all about what I have done for the organisation and what I need to improve. On the contrary, more was about how I am doing, any gaps in my skill set that I need to be assisted with to enhance, opportunities to train in relevant courses on Edu-Care and if all is going well for me.
Waking up each day in the 6 months that I was at Herts Aid gave me a purpose and fulfilment in life. I could be who I am without fear or prejudice. I could freely say ‘I will not be coming in as I need to attend my HIV clinic’. I could share my personal HIV implications, expecting understanding and guidance. Whereas I was a volunteer to contribute to the workforce, I benefited to the services offered by Herts Aid.
Time to Shine
I was immediately enrolled on their program Time To Shine, where my low self-esteem was addressed. Time For Me To Shine addressed various topics which included empowering me on how best I can utilise the skills I already have.
This was through personal skills identification. I realised the possibility of setting up a small venture as a self-employed person. By the end of the Time to Shine Program, I was confident. I was determined not to settle for less, since I realised I was much more than I thought I was. I gained courage and determination to present myself for any opportunity I want.
What Herts Aid has done for me
All the above, would not have been possible, if a charity that is ready to look beyond my HIV Status did not exist. I completed my volunteer period stronger and ready to face the world in general. Herts Aid taught me that I am capable. Herts Aid gave me back my self-esteem and worthiness to join in social events hence breaking my isolation.
It is organizations like Herts Aid which look at the social perspective of HIV care that need support. Treatment has helped me manage the virus and organisations like Herts Aid have addressed my psycho-social, societal and emotional issues.
P was worried about: their employer finding out and getting sacked; travelling abroad; telling their partner and becoming unwell. Herts Aid found information on travelling abroad and the law on entering certain countries.
We reassured P that they did not need to disclose their HIV status to their employer and explained that HIV is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act. Herts Aid then tested P’s partner for HIV and was available to discuss any concerns and questions they had individually and as a couple.
We were always on hand to reassure P that life goes on and goes on very positively. P felt able to discuss their deepest worries with us and was reassured by speaking to staff, knowing they were very knowledgeable about the condition. P is now getting on with their life, working, travelling and enjoying life!
Providing Help with Finances
S was borrowing money to pay rent and bills. The support staff provided S with foodbank vouchers and carried out an Income & Expenditure evaluation to ascertain whether S was eligible for any grants or housing benefit.
Since S was working full time, S’s income was considered too high make any applications. While T was hospitalized, T did not have an income, so the support team followed up T’s eligibility for Statutory Sick Pay and was awarded 3 months back pay.
Providing Emotional Support
The support team provided S with weekly peer support calls to support S emotionally. The support team maintained contact with the health professional involved with partner T. T recovered to a point where T was well enough to return home but required 24 hour care.
The support team liaised with the social worker, physiotherapist and psychologist via multi- disciplinary team meetings and agreed to a plan. When T was well enough T registered with Herts Aid and a further support plan was set in motion.
‘’Thank you for everything you have done for me’.
Follow Up Support
All relevant benefit applications were processed and T was provided with a carer through social services. The support team provided weekly wellbeing calls, provided transport for T to attend benefit assessments and regular home visits where information and support was provided. T expressed an interest in working and was having difficulty being stuck at home all day.
The support team spoke about volunteering for local charities and professional development through free online courses. T began volunteering for a local organisation and has increased hours and enjoying the time socialising and giving something back.
S continues to work 2 jobs and is planning another holiday to visit their families.
“The lady who referred me to you said, ‘once you see these people at Herts Aid, you will never need to come back to me’, and she was right.”
HIV and Treatment
If you’re on effective treatment and have an undetectable viral load you cannot pass on HIV.
HIV is now considered a long term condition. By properly managing your condition, taking your medication correctly and avoiding illness, you’ll be able to live as normal a life as possible.
In the UK, national guidelines recommend that anyone with HIV who is ready to commit to treatment should start taking it, regardless of their CD4 count.
HIV treatment involves taking a combination of anti-HIV drugs. This treatment has a very powerful anti-HIV effect and stops the virus from reproducing. This allows the immune system to strengthen and fight infections effectively.
For your HIV treatment to work properly, you need to take it as prescribed. This is often called ‘adherence’.
Health and Relationships
This is not true – people living with HIV fall in love, have sex, have relationships, marry, or even have children… just like anybody else.
With effective treatment it is possible to do all the above and not pass the HIV to someone else.
Having a relationship with someone who doesn’t have HIV (sometimes called a mixed-status relationship) might raise some particular questions for you:
- When should you tell them that you have HIV?
- How will they react?
- How can you have sex without passing on HIV?
Many people with HIV experience depression, anxiety or low self-esteem but help is available.
Getting the most from your diet while living with HIV as well as advice on dealing with appetite problems.
Alcohol and Drugs
Different drugs may interact with your HIV medication and long term use could affect your mental health.
Regular exercise can help combat fatigue, boost your confidence and change your body shape.
If you are concerned about your health talk to a healthcare professional for advice and support.