Navigating complex care systems

HIV organisations play a key role in helping people with HIV to navigate complex systems of HIV care.

The structure of the health system

People often begin their care journey in the following places:

  • General practitioners
  • Pharmacies
  • Practice nurses
  • Community health services

Clients/patients may be referred for additional investigation by:

  • Pathology (testing) providers
  • Specialists
  • Surgeons

Finally they may need to access tertiary care:

  • Hospital clinics
  • Surgery
  • Inpatient care

That’s just the health system! These services are surrounded by social services and HIV support services:

  • Centrelink and Medicare
  • Employment services
  • Housing authorities
  • Social work and community services
  • HIV services including peer support
  • Many, many others…

Part of the challenge for people with HIV is that these services rarely coordinate directly with each other. Instead, they write letters (‘To whom it may concern’) and leave it to the individual client/patient to advocate for their needs to be met.

The Client Work module of the HIV Peer Navigation training covers key skills that HIV peer navigators use to assist clients to develop their own self-advocacy capacity.

We can also work to make the health system more understanding of the diverse needs of clients/patients with HIV. NAPWHA’s Health Literacy Framework project was a major piece of organisational learning that sought to understand how we can build HIV health literacy in the HIV sector and the broader health system and society.

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