Project report: People Plus, Belarus

Grantee: People Plus, Belarus
Project: Reducing social isolation of people living with HIV at the age of over 65 years

Today there is a large group of people in Belarus, living with HIV and receiving anti-retroviral treatment (ARV), and their numbers will grow in the coming years. These people need not only medical care as they grow older, but the support of sympathetic people, help with everyday life and company. One of the problems facing older people is loneliness, and this is even more the case for people living with HIV. 

In the project “Social help for older people living with HIV”, members of the CSO ‘People Plus’ organised online and offline consultations for older people living with HIV and disabilities. We provided them with food and medicines, including HIV therapies, helped them clean their homes, escorted them to medical appointments and helped them fill in forms to apply for disability benefits.  

Tatiana has been living with HIV for a long time and takes ARV treatment. Last year she needed a joint replacement, after which she had difficulties obtaining the appropriate benefits, which the authorities refused to give her. She turned to People Plus, and we helped her get the right benefits. Up to that time Tatiana had not worked for three months, and was not receiving a pension, so had nothing to buy food with or pay for the internet. We helped her with all this.

In our project an important segment we provided was weekly lessons in computer skills. With these skills our beneficiaries were able to join social networks, meet people like themselves, old friends and distant relatives with whom they had lost touch long ago.

Igor Vladimirovich has a disability and is a veteran of the Afghan war. He has lived with HIV for a long time. Until he got in touch with People Plus he had been living an isolated existence: he had no contact with other people and felt useless. He started coming to our computer classes, then bought a smartphone, joined social media networks, found old school friends and soldiers he had served with, and made new friends. He learned how to pay for communal services online, make appointments with the doctor, buy bus and train tickets, and is anow able to buy groceries and other items online. He once said he had found a reason for living. 

Sergei first asked for help from People Plus to accompany him to a nearby town to change his ARV treatment. Then he started coming to meet other people. When he found out about the computer classes, he started coming to them. He learned to bank online and began paying for his utilities and services that way, joined messenger groups, and found old classmates. He told friends about our project and two other people contacted us through him about joining the computer class.  

During the duration of the project we advised 420 elderly people living with HIV and a disability. We try to provide such people with information that they need and in an accessible way. Most such people experience stress, suffer from stigma and discrimination, and are depressed. Our courses showed them that they are not alone, and that even with HIV they can live a long and fulfilling life. 

We helped 42 elderly people living with HIV and a disability to obtain food, medicines, ARV treatments, to get their homes cleaned and to reach medical appointments. 

62 elderly people living with HIV and a disability attended computer courses and were given online counselling. 

We helped 18 elderly people living with HIV and a disability to get internet access at home and with computer programmes.  

133 elderly people living with HIV and a disability living in poverty were helped to receive food supplies, and 69 were given internet payment cards.  

In Belarus there is very little help for elderly people living with HIV, and few services geared to their individual needs. We were able to draw attention to the fact that elderly people living with HIV have such needs and to show how important it is to help them.  

Organisation contact details:
247434 Belarus, Gomel Region, Svetlogorsk, Internationalnaya St, 1/70 
+375 (29) 313 53 09 

Author contact details:
Tatyana Zhuravskaya

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