Patrick Cash1 and Laurie Poole2
1Patient Champion at 56 Dean Street; 2Let’s Talk About Gay Sex & Drugs – Researcher
Patient Champion is a rather grandiose title for a role that aims to empower patients, and give them a voice within their healthcare service. Directly, this aim can be achieved by simply talking to patients in the waiting room: ‘How long have you been coming to this clinic? Are you happy with the quality of service you’re receiving? What could be changed to improve your experience in the future?’
However, there are other, more innovative, methods.
Community engagement can be a potent tool in improving wellbeing within patient cohorts. It offers strategies to, for example, achieve better collective mental health, or for working with people who have been marginalised by wider society. Through interand intra- personal approaches, health promotion in the community might involve collaborative working that enhances skills and competencies of groups, bonding and the forging of alliances between individuals, education, and promoting a sense of mattering to improve quality of life and increase empowerment [1–3].
Stigma is a major factor in negatively affecting HIV patients’ mental health. Vulnerable individuals who have experienced discrimination in relation to health conditions (HIV) can internalise this stigma via feelings of guilt, shame and self-blame with regard to having the disease, and may as a result isolate themselves from the wider community [4–6]. According to Stuart and Collins, ‘chems’  use can often result from this isolation, intertwined with feelings of low self-esteem. Read more…