Peer Educators for Adherence, Referral, and Linkages (PEARL) is an approach initiated since 2008 by RRP+ and currently implemented in partnership with CDC. The PEARL approach is based on the involvement of people living with HIV (PLHIV) in prevention and treatment, in mobilization of the community for voluntary testing and for referral to health services if required The overall objective of the peer education approach is to increase HIV prevention and enhance adherence of patients to HIV treatment, and improve referral and linkages between the associations of PLHIV, the community and health facilities.
PEARL is implemented in 27 Districts in Country in 233 health facilities. The work done by trained Peer Educators is evaluated quarterly and Peer Educators receive Performance Based Financing.
The management committee formed at Health facilities level and composed of 7 people from Health facilities, the RRP+ representative at district and sector level, and the implementing partner organization meet at district level for the evaluation of Peer educators in all sites supported by CDC funding.
The evaluation is based on indicators that are pre-established by the donor in collaboration with MoH/RBC and RRP+. Some of these indicators are the number of people referred or linked services like Family Planning, Voluntary Counseling and Testing, TB testing or enrollment in ART, CPN, or Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV programs (PMTCT), Peer Educators receive a financial incentive per person referred that actually received services at the health facility.
During this year 2016-2017, the PEARL Program has achieved the following results through the work of PEs:
- 308 people referred to the HIV testing
- 11.002 people referred to the PMTCT and CPN services.
- 934 people adhered on HIV treatment (ARV and CD4).
Basing on those results and on the testimony of PEs, it can be better to strengthen and sustain the program as well as to own the program by the Health facilities and local authorities.
KAYINAMURA Desire, PE at Health Center Jali revealed his feeling about being a PE. “I simply don’t agree with people who don’t reveal their HIV status.” He kept saying that it is a great pleasure for him to be a PE; “People are proud of me due to my contribution in saving their life by taking them to the health center to check their life condition. It might be very complicated to understand it, but I’m proud of what I do. KAYINAMURA goes on saying that the willingness to help others is more important than personal interests. “We do this because we enjoy it; we are not ashamed of testifying in the community work (umuganda) about our private life; the more we testify in front of the people the more we change people’s mindset and they start thinking forward.”
INGABIRE Marie Immaculée is one of the PLHIV who is involved in the improvement of the prevention of HIV and the adherence to HIV and TB treatment. She says that it is very joyful to sensitize people about the awareness of Voluntary Testing, Elimination of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV (EMTCT), Family Planning, TB and ARV treatment. She carries on saying that any time she does a home visit it gives her an opportunity of expressing her ideas which contribute to changing the community for a better future.