National Peer Support Programme

HIV Peer Support

The purpose of our peer support programme is to provide confidential, friendly, and community-led support to people living with HIV.

Peer support is an important part of a person’s HIV journey. It is the emotional help and encouragement given by someone who has experienced the problems you are currently experiencing. People living with HIV can face challenges during the course of their lives. While these challenges may be practical problems, such as with managing mental and physical health, they can often be related to loneliness, isolation, and lack of social support.

The Peer Support Relationship

In the peer support relationship, both people involved are treated as equals and the relationship is confidential and mutually agreed upon. In our programme, volunteer peer support workers will be an empathetic, compassionate, and friendly source of support that is centred around your needs. This support can be provided to you in person, over the phone, or through video apps such as Zoom or Facetime.

It is important to note that peer support workers are not counsellors; they can only offer emotional support and encouragement as a peer. They cannot help with goal setting or planning, or attend meetings or appointments with you. They cannot get involved in individual advocacy. However, our Community Support staff can help you with these things.

Profile of our Peer Support Workers

Our peer support programme is an all-Ireland service run in conjunction with Positive Now, the All-Ireland Network of People Living with HIV, and Positive Life (Northern Ireland). We currently have 19 trained peer support workers based in the Republic of Ireland, and a further 5 in Northern Ireland. (13 males and 11 females in total). This highly diverse group of 24 volunteers were recruited, and formally interviewed, and agreed to be police vetted. They have also been required to provide two character references relating to work or other activities (not from family members or friends). Each peer worker has been issued a manual which has been developed to give a detailed outline of the HIV Peer Support Programme and an outline of governance and management structures which are in place to ensure effective service delivery.

Our Peer Support Workers currently reside in 9 counties:

Cavan Clare Cork Down Dublin Limerick Sligo Tipperary Wexford

They are from:

Ireland/N. Ireland Brazil Chile India Malawi Nigeria South Africa Zimbabwe
How to Access HIV Peer Support

If you want to avail of HIV related peer support, please contact peersupport@hivireland.ie or call 01 873 3799.

On registering interest, you will be provided with a paper form, or be directed to an online form, to complete. This form gives you the opportunity to state the profile of a peer you would like to be matched with (for example, you may want to speak to someone else of the same gender, sexuality, or in the same age range, or speak to someone who speaks your native language). Please note, you can choose not to be matched with someone from your home county.

Once the form is completed, you will be matched with a peer support worker, and you will be contacted by the Programme Manager. On the completion of your agreed number of support sessions, you will be given the opportunity to complete an anonymous online evaluation on your experience of peer support. You will also be given an opportunity to complete an anonymous ‘Gaps and Blocks’ survey to see what actions can be taken to best support people living with HIV to access services and healthcare.

For further information, please contact Dr Erin Nugent (Programme Manager) at: erin.nugent@hivireland.ie or at 083 088 3047