When we met Sara three years ago, she was only 21-years-old, newly diagnosed HIV
positive and a recent immigrant from Haiti. Sara had been referred for supportive
counseling services by her physician, who was concerned that Sara’s health would
be jeopardized without a strong Kreyol-speaking support system. Sara was initially
resistant to counseling but was willing work with someone who understood her cultural
background and could help her navigate the health and social service system.
With support from DCS WSS and case management, Sara was able to attend to her
basic life needs while acclimating to life in New York City. Once her basic needs were
met, Sara began to process and explore her feelings about her HIV status, immigration,
family separation and the future. Sara became receptive to learning about HIV treatment
adherence and safer sex practices, and there was a noticeable improvement in her attitude
and mood. A year ago Sara went back to school to learn English and obtain full-time employment.
She has since found a job, an apartment and is financially independent! Sara’s health is
strong and stable; she remains engaged in her medical care and is excited about the bright
and successful future she has ahead of her.