In the early 1980's a strange and unidentified disease appeared in the United States that we now know as HIV/AIDS. In its early years, those suffering from this disease experienced stigma, discrimination, or physical violence and faced numerous challenges of accessing housing, medical treatment, and supportive services. Over the years, the role of the advocate has played an important role in reducing barriers to care for those infected with HIV/AIDS. In this paper I will present my definition of an advocate, followed by a discussion on how I can help an HIV positive individual with housing, medical treatment and supportive services.
What is an Advocate?
Before one can start helping, one must understand what an advocate is and what he or she does. An advocate is essentially an individual "who acts in support of an interested party during negotiations, litigation, or another conflict resolution process" (Barksy, 2007). These individuals range from friends and family to licensed professionals with a common goal-to help someone access services.
The services of an advocate crosses a broad spectrum which is dependent on what kind of advocacy one needs (AdvoConnection, 2011). For example, if individual needs help navigating a complicated health care system, one may access a Patient Services Advocate. Another person who may need assistance in applying for public benefit may pursue services from an eligibility advocate; thus, these individual advocates are skilled in an area that potentially generates a positive outcome for the client.