The goal of the Health Buddy program is to raise awareness of HIV and sexual health in communities that we, here at Hivpoint, are not currently reaching. Sexuality and sexual rights are sensitive topics and hard to discuss openly, but it is essential to talk about them in order to secure sexual health for everyone. In the program, Hivpoint trains volunteers as health buddies and sexual health advocates who organize sexual health workshops in different communities. It is a great opportunity to participate in HIV prevention work, share knowledge about safe sex and about Hivpoint and our services.
In 2023, the Health Buddy program reached especially women with migrant background
In 2023 we had five health buddies with diverse backgrounds. They organized 19 workshops. Most of the workshops were held face to face. All together 149 people participated in the workshops.
The goal of the Health buddy program 2023 was to reach especially women with migrant background. From the a total of 149 participants 103 were women. 93 percent of the women who participated in the health buddy activity felt that they had adopted ways to prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
- 54 % of the participants told they got new information about how to use a condom.
- 67 % of the participants told they got new information about HIV.
- 60 % of the participants told they got new information about sexual rights.
- 67 % of the participants said the workshop made it easier for them to get an HIV test if needed.
We asked how big of an impact the workshop had on the people’s lives that participated the workshops and the average of the answers was 4,6 (on a scale from 1 to 5)! So we can truly say that the Health Buddy program is effective!
Amazing comments from the participants
This is how some of the participants of the workshops commented after the workshops:
” I didn’t know that people with Hiv can still have sex and not pass infection if the viral load is low!”
“It’s good to think of Hiv as just another disease which one can live with normally with the right treatment.”
“I can’t believe that condom is so important for my health. why no one told us about this stuff in school?”
“I am not scared to take hiv test because even if i am positive i will not die.”
“I have never gotten tested of hiv because of fear of dying from it. Sometimes if i get rashes i think it might be it because where i come from it the common disease. I dont fear anymore i for sure i will get tested. You have given me the knowledge and courage.”
How do the Health buddies 2023 describe the program?
It’s a great program, most people out there are clueless about options available after HIV and there is still a lot of stigma, so through the program , if more people are reached, stigma will decrease and more people will be open to discussing HIV. Also most people see it as a disease for others they never see it as a ‘them’ disease, more training people will know that this HIV affects real people.
The best thing about the Health Buddy program was teaching people and seeing the people get amazed when they understood HIV is no death sentence and treatment is good, and people can be normal. And also learning new things about HIV myself.
It brings awareness at grassroot levels. People are able to overcome the stigma and fear of knowing their hiv status and seeing people wanting to get tested and not scared anymore is a sign of positive effect of health buddies. People learning to use condoms when they thought they knew to use it is encouraging to continue being a health buddie.I have realised that the impact we make in the society is great because we give the information to people directly and they ask all questions and discuss until they understand. Some of them share the information so the message spreads. People getting tested or wanted to get tested reduces the spread of hiv.
The best thing about the Health Buddy program was spreading the message of safe sex!
Do you want to become a Health Buddy in 2024?
Every year we train again new health buddies to promote sexual health. Next training will be in Helsinki in the spring 2024. When applying you don’t need to have prior training in sexual health issues, interest in sexual education and willingness to learn is the key. We train all our health buddies before they start conducting workshops independently. The health buddies will get a payment for their work.