Aid Organization for Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Israel

Aid for HIV Carriers

Support program for HIV-positive asylum-seekers 

 

In the absence of access to health services for asylum-seekers in Israel, the situation of HIV-positive individuals is dire. Without medical care, their health deteriorates and the system based on human rights organizations is unwieldy and hard to understand and access. In view of these difficulties, and of the emotional problems and the lack of support systems, such as family or community, Assaf operates a scheme of accompaniment and support for the HIV-positive and AIDS sufferers.

In a situation where the patient is often alone, for fear of confiding in family and friends and of being excluded, the volunteers offer emotional support, an open ear and friendship. They visit the applicants regularly, and when required, accompany them to medical treatment and tests.

Assaf has a team of volunteers who have received training on accompaniment of HIV-positive and AIDS sufferers - from the medical (follow-up) and the emotional aspects. They provide personal accompaniment to these people in their encounters with the health system and in emotional crises. They help  the patients gain familiarity with the medical procedures: types of tests and treatments, frequency, place, cost and other relevant support bodies such as: The Committee for Combating AIDS, Physicians for Human Rights, Ichilov Hospital, Levinsky Clinic etc.

Assaf's support and accompaniment network is an important infrastructure for study, analysis and understanding of the complex situation faced by asylum-seekers with this particular medical problem. Since the team are well-acquainted with the area and with the viewpoint of the asylum-seekers, they are initiating and promoting changes and improvements in the support system, rendering them friendlier and more accessible. For example, while accompanying patients, the team frequently witness flawed  communication between various medical authorities and see how difficult it is for many asylum-seekers to understand information, recommendations and various referrals. As a result, the team have produced a leaflet in Hebrew, English, Arabic and Tigrina which explains various tests and medical terms and provides charts for updating and follow-up. Using this leaflet, applicants can manage their own course of treatment and feel that they are in control.