Tuesday, August 16, 2011

My life as a counsellor

Mthobisi Mkhulisi from WhizzKids United reflects on his work as a HIV Counseling and Testing counsellor at the Health Academy.
Mthobisi Mkhulisi and other counsellors being trained in the WhizzKids United Life Skills manual

First, let me assure you that being an HIV Counseling and Testing (HCT) Counsellor is not as easy or asboring as many may think. To become a good counsellor, there are some qualities that you need. You must be a good listener, you must understand your emotions and anticipate your reactions to every situation you may face when dealing with clients. Below, I will explain how I give a pre- and post-HIV test session at the Health Academy

Before you take a client, your consultation room needs to be prepared. Depending on the client's age, certain documents must be prepared: consent forms, result forms, and a Sexual Health Risk Assessment Form (if the child is a minor) and an Orphans and Vulnerable Children Form. Once we gathered our documents, the client walks in with their hemoglobin test form so that we know that their vital signs were checked. Meanwhile the reception staff will have already provided their medical files.

I greet the client, introduce my role at the WhizzKids United Health Academy and assure that everything will be discussed in confidentiality. After my speech and the forms are done, the counselling begins.

Pre-Test Counselling
This is where we explore the client's knowledge about HIV transmission, prevention, and management. We ask whether or not they have been at risk of contracting the virus. We discuss the possible results and its meanings. After this stage we do the actual test and after 5 minutes I can give the client the results.

Post-Test Counseling

Generally, this is where we look at the implication of the results. We talk about the possible lifestyle changes that would fit the client given the results. We also encourage them to do a tuberculosis screening, disclose their status to a person they trust, all while giving healthy lifestyle options. After this is complete, I fill in the relevant documents and give the client their next appointment date.

Of course, this all sounds very easy. But, when you are talking with an HIV positive person who may have been abused or raped, this is not simple at all. Even when a client is HIV negative it is often hard to get them to open up so you can help them to ensure that they remain HIV-free. However, I love what I do and hope that I can help as many adolescents in Edendale (South Africa) as possible to create an HIV-free generation.

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