AIDS case managers help patients with love and care-Xinhua

Hu Qun (R), a 27-year-old case manager for AIDS patients, works at a “caring clinic”…

AIDS case managers help patients with love and care-Xinhua

Hu Qun (R), a 27-year-old case manager for AIDS patients, works at a “caring clinic” in Wuhan, central China’s Hubei Province, Nov. 30, 2022. (Xinhua)

WUHAN, Dec. 3 (Xinhua) — Hu Qun, a 27-year-old case manager for AIDS patients in central China, was lost in thought when reading the words on a gift silk banner: “Thank you for your companionship along my way from the dark abyss to brightness.”

Thursday marks this year’s World AIDS Day, which aims to raise public awareness of the disease. The thank-you gift was sent by an AIDS patient in his 20s. “I wish him all the best,” said Hu.

She was once a nurse with little knowledge of AIDS at Jinyintan Hospital in Wuhan, capital of Hubei Province, but about three years ago, Hu began to work as a case manager in the hospital’s “caring clinic.” Hu now provides individualized psychological counseling and medical treatment services for AIDS patients.

Over the past three years, Hu has helped nearly 800 AIDS patients. She feels fulfilled whenever those who used to be resistant to medical treatment and give up their hopes for life gradually brave the reality and return to their normal life.

In 2015, several major cities in China, including Beijing, Shanghai and Wuhan, began to recruit and train such case managers to support the antiviral treatments of the country’s AIDS patients. The new career aims to pick AIDS patients up off the ground and help them receive medical treatments, thus curbing the further spread of the disease.

The patients often easily shrink into themselves due to social discrimination and controversy over the disease, and delay treatment out of shame and fear. They even lose control of their behaviors because of a lack of confidence in the long haul of fighting the virus.

In 2019, Hu joined the special cause of guarding AIDS sufferers against the disease. “It’s hard for them to accept the fact when their infection is confirmed. They are often unavailable when local disease prevention and control authorities conduct follow-up visits,” recalled Hu.

“Some get depressed, self-contained and unwilling to receive any medical treatment as their family may lack enough understanding for them,” Hu added.

“Only by becoming their most trusted person can you truly help them. An eligible AIDS case manager needs to know well about the disease, its antiviral treatments and relevant policies. We also need to have good communication skills and provide love and care for the patients,” Luo Yanhe, head nurse of the caring clinic, explained.

Hu still remembers a lady she met in the clinic, who huddled with tears in her eyes while her family kept a distance from her.

Hu didn’t ask about her symptoms immediately, but chose to listen to her stories and feelings first. After the patient gradually calmed down between talks, Hu then began to inquire about key information about her disease and reported back to the doctor to further make a tailored therapy plan.

Currently, the special clinic at Jinyintan Hospital has six AIDS case managers. The number of their patients has grown from over 400 to more than 4,000 since 2015.

“We have online chat groups with the patients, where we can remind them to take medicine in time and answer their questions instantly. We refer to the medicine as ‘candy’ and always ask if the patient is okay to pick up the phone before we make the call,” said Hu, adding that all these are based on better protecting their privacy.

The managers also participate in training programs, collaborate with social organizations to carry out auxiliary treatment, discuss how to provide patients with guidance on health, medication compliance and other aspects, and provide necessary psychological counseling for both patients and their families.

“I’m looking forward to wider social participation in fighting the disease so that everyone can learn more about AIDS, treat the patients equally, and there will be no discrimination against the infected,” said Hu, adding that she will continue to help the patients with love and care and make them feel accepted and understood.