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|Project:||Development of Mental Health and HIV/AIDS programs in Central Asia, Caucasus and Southeast Europe (MAIDS)|
|Program Area:||Mental Health and AIDS|
|Date:||2005 - 2009|
|Donor(s):||Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (TMF-program) and OSI|
Since 2005 Global Initiative on Psychiatry has been focusing on the development of expertise necessary to address HIV/mental health –related issues. With support of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Open Society Institute it has been running a major project aiming to improve the quality of life of people with HIV/AIDS who also have mental health problems, and of their partners, carers and families, in Southeastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia.
The GIP "Mental Health and HIV/AIDS project" (MAIDS) involves the creation of a network of expert centers on mental health and HIV/AIDS in 9 countries. Expert centers have been established in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Bulgaria, Moldova and Serbia. The Network of expert centers strives for increased knowledge regarding the overlap between mental health and HIV/AIDS, and promotes the development of a comprehensive system of mental health assistance to people affected by HIV/AIDS. Furthermore, it supports efforts to increase the understanding of policy makers and health professionals and to decrease the stigma associated with mental illness and HIV/AIDS. The expert centers conduct research on mental health issues of HIV/AIDS, train professionals, develop and implement de-stigmatization and informational programs for professionals and develop pilot programs to show effective ways of dealing with HIV/AIDS related mental health problems.
The project is innovative in many ways. First of all, it deals with issues that have mostly been ignored and not linked at all in the region. Moreover, the concept of developing a multi-disciplinary expert center for a specific issue, that brings together all expertise and functions both as an engine for interventions and as knowledge center, is new for the region. It is a pragmatic solution to a situation where interaction between disciplines is limited, effective collaboration is difficult without a constant stimulator and existing structures are often too bureaucratic to take decisive and quick action.
The project is targeted at the mixed group of so called change agents who are supposed to lead the changes envisaged and desired in the project overall. These are committed, enthusiastic and knowledgeable people who understand how to initiate the necessary major, lasting changes in attitudes, services and society to achieve the project's overall long-term objective. Change agents include the staff of expert centers, but also people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV), doctors, nurses, pchychologists, other medical professionals, people with mental health problems, injecting drug users (IDU's), social workers, policy makers, leaders, prison staff, journalists, NGO's and anyone else with desire and ability to make a difference.
People living with HIV/AIDS, their relatives and their carers are direct beneficiaries of the project. They are involved in all the activities of the expert centers. Their involvement is crucial to the success of the project. Their involvemnet in the development of mental health support is contributing to the development of relevant services, including peer-led initiatives, and can empower them by building self-esteem, decreasing isolation and enabling opennes about their HIV status.
To visit the website of the Expert Center in Bulgaria please click here.
In September 2009 a similiar MAIDS-project started in several EU-countries: Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Estonia and Romania.