Read more about online peer support
What is peer support?
Peer support can take many different formats. In person, online, one to one, in group settings to name a few. Informal peer support networks often develop amongst our friends, work colleagues or wider community groups, and can be a very effective peer support networks. Formal or structured peer support can be defined as..
‘a voluntary, mutually beneficial and purposeful relationship, which is usually limited in time, where the person providing the peer support uses his or her own experience and knowledge to help others to move towards a goal or set of goals that enables that individual to meet their full potential’.
Peer support can be delivered as part of wider support services within some clinics, charities and other community organisations. Not everyone living with HIV will have access to ‘face to face’ services which is where online peer support can provide a convenient solution. We appreciate that some people living with HIV may not feel ready to meet others in a face to face situation, and this can be another great advantage of ‘meeting’ a peer support volunteer online.
How can peer support help?
It is well established that peer support should form an integral part of the care people living with HIV receive. This is particularly important for those individuals who are received a recent diagnosis, where having the opportunity to talk with someone living with HIV can be extremely beneficial and empowering. Some of the more important areas where peer support can be beneficial include:
- Sharing of lived experience of life with HIV
- Providing an authentic, up to date point of view of life with HIV
- Develop an understanding that HIV is a manageable condition
- Understand HIV treatment is well tolerated & easy to take
- Understand of some of the practicalities of living with HIV
- Develop a sense of community to avoid the feeling of isolation
What are the benefits of online peer support?
The use of online technology has been used to extend the reach of peer support services for many years and has been shown to be acceptable to people living with or affected by HIV. Some of the benefits of online peer support include:
- Convenience and not having to travel to a particular venue
- A feeling of safety as peer support takes place in the home environment
- Anonymity can be guaranteed as peer support is remotely delivered
- Development of the peer to peer relationship in a shorter time period
- Allows partners and carers to be invited to peer support sessions
- Provides a stepping stone into traditional in person support
You can find out more about peer support for people living with HIV by visiting the HIV peer support website