India: Counseling center reaches out to HIV-positive people and their families (February 2006)


India's first Family Counseling Center (FCC), based at the Government Hospital of Thoracic Medicine in the State of Tamil Nadu, receives Emergency Plan support. The Center has expanded counseling, care and support for HIV-infected people by reaching out to their family members. The support of the family is crucial for an HIV-infected person, but the stigma and misconceptions surrounding HIV can hinder such support. Secrecy within families has also led to transmission of the infection between spouses.

The FCC was set up to provide counseling for HIV-positive people as well as their spouses, family, friends and caretakers, and to link clients to a supportive community network. The FCC is managed by the Indian Network of Positive People, which also provides counselors and support to the program. The services include pre- and post-test counseling that addresses HIV transmission, disease progression, treatment options, health management, nutrition, and risk management. The Center also links clients to community resources through district-level networks of HIV-positive people.

The FCC's wide acceptance has led to positive results. It held 1,280 family counseling sessions (including sessions with 420 discordant couples) and nearly 19,000 individual sessions in fiscal year 2005. The model is now being scaled up with resources from an HIV/AIDS Round 4 grant of the Global Fund, with six new centers being initiated in Tamil Nadu and one in the state of Andhra Pradesh.


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