17 Jul Real-World and Behind-the-Scenes Stories about SETAC’s Impact
SETAC’s impact in the local Vallarta community goes well beyond simply distributing condoms or conducting HIV tests. Sometimes the results of those tests can put people in serious and immediate crisis, and intervention is required. Even before clients can be directed or escorted to the services appropriate to their diagnosis, sometimes it’s necessary to speak to a counselor or psychologist on the spot to help accept and integrate this newfound awareness into someone’s life. The staff at the Wellness Center have shared a real story to illustrate the types of interventions that are sometimes necessary.
Two young men in a relationship for five months came to SETAC recently to take an HIV test together, and one of them unexpectedly tested positive. In the moment, his boyfriend guessed that this result came from potentially promiscuous conduct, even though neither of them had ever before had an HIV test. They devolved into a crisis right there in the office with each one threatening to leave the other.
The professional psychologist at SETAC intervened with them immediately and proposed using a “safe space” psychological intervention. They both agreed, and so they sat down together and were informed about living with HIV, the possibility that the one boyfriend became infected before entering into the relationship, and the necessity for the other one who tested negative to repeat the HIV test in several more weeks. They both relaxed a bit and came away from the brink. They started asking basic questions about sexually transmitted diseases and as the conversation continued, gradually started asking more sophisticated questions about the implications and possibilities in their life as a couple. The entire intervention lasted around two hours, and the couple left with hopefully a new perspective on what living with HIV means for them individually and as a couple.
SETAC’s main goal as a Wellness Center is to take care of all the health and wellness aspects of our Community members, and sometimes that includes mental and emotional health. For exactly this reason there are specially-trained HIV counselors instead of nurses handling test results and a professional psychologist standing by just in case. As well, there is even staff ready and able to escort a newly-diagnosed client directly to other medical services in the moment so that s/he can start treatment immediately. This integrative approach is an important way the Center works to promote both individual and public health here in Vallarta.