Motivational interviewing techniques for key populations

Ministry of Health

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Bennet Charles Communication and Advocacy Officer with United and Strong

(PRESS RELEASE) – The Ministry of Health and Wellness with the support of key Stakeholders aims to encourage voluntary disclosure by key populations in Saint Lucia via improved communication techniques.

Based on a recent Population Size Estimate Survey, Groups such as Men who have sex with Men (MSM), Transgender Women (TW) and Female Sex Workers (FSW) are very reluctant to disclose their sexual behaviors to family, friends and healthcare professionals. Disclosure and concealment of sexual orientation or involvement in sex work is closely associated with factors such as; stigma, confidentiality, and social support.

Gaining a better understanding in the OECS of how best to facilitate disclosure while protecting medical confidentiality, is a critical task if the sub-region is to achieve the 90-90-90 targets set by UNAIDS to help end the AIDS epidemic. In this regard, the Department of Health & Wellness in collaboration with OECS HIV/TB Elimination Project, United and Strong, The Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition and the University of Alabama, undertook a pilot initiative referred to as “Motivational interviewing” to better understand and address Key population disclosure in Saint Lucia.

A two day workshop was facilitated by Contact FLEX Coach, Maurice Bulls of Behaviour Change Consulting.

“This guiding style of motivational interviewing was the key because they felt like we were partners, they felt like we were on the same page and that’s what they are learning here. Like ok we’ve been doing some of these things already but partnership is the key and really being in there and understanding their perspective especially coming from the same culture.”

Bennet Charles Communication and Advocacy Officer with United and Strong Inc expounded on the benefits of this training.

“Tailored motivation interview I think it’s going to assist us in a number of ways. We’ve done to major research pieces in the Caribbean recently well more the OECS, the Barriers survey and the PSE survey really showed how clients thought about the services one they thought that the services were very rigid and very autonomous and the services were not very engaging and so what the MI is going to do; one, it will assist nurses and other healthcare professionals in being able to have a more client centered approach in terms of how we engage the clients, how we get information from the clients. It will be more conversational, so clients will be more open. The other thing is if clients are more open they would more willing to at least one if they have issues with their medication they would be able to speak to you a lot easier. So it will encourage adherence and it will also encourage disclosure and so we are hoping this training would equip the participants with the necessary skills to allow the clients themselves to be more open, to be more engaging and really at the end of the day to be able to retain more people intocare because that’s one of the big issues.”

It is hoped that a more comprehensive package of services will be offered to clients in St. Lucia stemming from this partnership with the CVC, the University of Alabama, and Behavioural Change Consulting among other partners. The workshop commenced September 13th at the Pastoral Centre in Marisule.

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