Certified training for counsellors
Anova supports HIVSA's certified training for HIV counsellors. Counsellors are typically not given a qualification in recognition of their skills and work. This certification adds legitimacy to an extremely important role in addressing HIV. This forms part of Anova's ongoing bid to strengthen the South African health care system.
HIVSA's accredited training for counsellors
The first step in addressing HIV is knowing ones status, usually achieved by attending a HIV counselling and testing (HCT) session. Countrywide, these sessions are conducted by HIV counsellors. While skilled counsellors can be perceived as a “nice to have” or counselling is sometimes considered a “soft” skill, the role of good counsellors in the prevention and treatment of HIV cannot be overstated. Yet counsellors' positions are seldom formalised or given sufficient recogition in terms of qualifications and remuneration.
Typically counsellors receive a stipend from government via NGOs. Owing to their lack of formal training, this fee is often low and is in cases paid out infrequently. HIVSA recognised that by providing formal training for counsellors, along with an official qualification, these invluable people would be in a petter position to receive the recognition they were due. Training would also ensure that counsellors are highly skilled across the board and that a certain standard of service would be maintained in all facilities where there are trained counsellors. Thus, in partnership with Anova, HIVSA began implementing formal training for counsellors in February 2010 under the health and welfare training authority (HWSETA).
The training is comprehensive and covers topics including: understanding HIV and AIDS; epidemiology; the life cycle of the virus; stages of infection and progression; signs and symptoms; transmission and prevention; early diagnosis and testing; treatment and side effects; PMTCT; TB; STIs; opportunistic infections; nutrition; and sources of support. The course also covers ARVs, including how they work, different types of ARVs, available regimens, side effects, post exposure prophylaxis and ARVs and children.
The course is attended by counsellors who are employed by the Department of Health and PEPFAR partners including Right to Care, RHRU, PHRU and Anova. These counsellors are placed at VCT, PMTCT and ARV sites. The course has been extremely popular. In its first year HIVSA trained 330 counsellors, and provided Further Education Training (FET) certificates to 251 individuals in counselling.
For more, visit HIVSA's website and read about their training.
Training: A counsellor’s story
“I became interested in counselling after my friend Thoko died in my arms. She was always alone, she had no family. I also had my problems and so we would see each other at the shop and became like friends.
“I started volunteering and went on a course. I found myself passionate about the work, even though the money is not there. After my first course I wanted to do more. My first patient I counselled was HIV-positive and I thought: 'But what now?’ I didn’t know how to offer further support. (After doing the course) it is much better because we have mentors.
“Not getting our stipend ... it’s kind of soul-destroying. I feel I am letting everybody down. If the money comes, it is after months have passed. We call it ‘window period’ money. The VCTs of the Department of Health - we are all angry.
“With this qualification I have grown. Something has changed in me. I feel I can reach my clients and they come back for follow-ups. (The course) has broadened my mind. I can counsel anybody. It helps a lot being taught by experienced socialworkers and the trainers here.
“Things have changed over the years and now we see VCT self-referrals all the time. We are pioneers. If the departments don’t see us as important, and I’m offered something in the private sector, I’m gone. I’m just worried about my clients.”
Project manager: Steven Whiting
Tel: +27 11 494 1900