Even today, living with HIV/AIDS often means social isolation and stigmatization. Therefore, the Buddy project assists people with HIV/AIDS and offers them practical support and a sincere and personal relationship, which makes everyday life easier. Buddies try to increase the quality of life of those who are affected by HIV/AIDS by emotional and a very personal support. They can help by relieving the existing support system, but in some cases, though, a buddy is the only reliable person in the life of someone living with HIV/AIDS. Buddies meet with their ‘clients’ regularly on a one-to-one basis. They see them at home or in the hospital, listen to them, laugh with them, or go to the movies or to a café together. With their continuing contact and friendship buddies offer a supportive social framework. Thus, buddies can assist in strengthening the vital energies and coping skills. As a result, emotional crises and problems can easier be dealt with.
The so-called “helper cells“ are named after the supporting cells of the human immune system. They offer practical assistance in all kind of situations: they step in when friends and/or family need a break, or when the home help service is prevented from coming. They are also there if someone cannot count on the support from relatives or social care facilities – because they either are not available or cannot cater to someone’s individual needs. The Buddy Associations helper cells thus close the gap between institutionalized care, support from relatives or ‘emotional company’ from buddies.
To supply bedridden patients with everything they need at home, helper cells work together with the mobile nursing service “Diversity Care Wien”: they pick up medication from the drug store, fetch prescriptions from the doctor or have them approved by the chief physician at the health insurance company.
“Life Ball’s financial support significantly contributes to the continuance of the association and the maintenance of the projects, enabling the care of people with HIV/AIDS living in Vienna,” explains the executive committee of the Buddy Association.