Peer Support

Peer Support is an individual- and group-level intervention that aims to increase medication adherence among HIV-positive patients. Patients who are HIV-positive, taking antiretroviral therapy (ART), and adherent to their treatment are trained to serve as “peers” for patients who are either ART-experienced or ART-naïve and need additional support.

photo of a diverse group of people at a meeting

About Peer Support

Patients who serve as peers provide medication-related social support through group meetings and weekly individual telephone calls. Group meetings are led by peers, who are supervised by agency or clinic program staff. The group meetings are designed to give patients an opportunity to engage face-to-face with their assigned peer, meet other peers and patients who are taking ART and share experiences with the group.

The weekly individual peer phone calls provide more in-depth personal attention and feedback to answer any questions the patient may have felt uncomfortable asking during group meetings. Group discussions focus on identifying barriers to ART adherence and problem-solving strategies to overcome barriers. Group meetings may also focus on life issues that may affect adherence, including disclosure, romantic relationships, substance use, and mental health issues. Based on issues identified by group members, peers may work with program staff to schedule speakers (e.g., nutritionist) to present during group sessions.

Intervention Goals

  • Improve adherence to antiretroviral therapy.
  • Improve clinical outcomes (HIV viral load and CD4 cell count).

Peer Support Training

This training has 1 component:

  • 1-hour eLearning module

A one hour Peer Support eLearning module is located in CDC TRAINexternal icon.  By the end of the module, learners will be able to:

  • Describe the key components of Peer Support
  • Describe the role of peers in promoting adherence
  • Describe key characteristics for identifying appropriate peers
  • Identify and describe social and behavioral factors associated with medication non-adherence, and identify strategies to improve adherence

Implementation and Marketing Materials

The materials and resources listed below support the implementation and/or marketing of Peer Support by health departments, community-based organizations, and health care or other organizations. The resources are evidence-based and designed for cost-effective, scalable implementation.

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  • Simoni JM, Huh D, Frick PA, Pearson CR, Andrasik MP, Dunbar PJ, Hooton TM. An RCT of Peer Support and Pager Messaging to Promote Antiretroviral Therapy Adherence and Clinical Outcomes among Adults Initiating or Modifying Therapy in Seattle, WA, USA. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr 2009;52(4):465-473.