Peer Educator Training


Peer education utilises the influence peers can have on one another. With HIV intervention this entails peers educating their colleagues on HIV in such a way that brings about both attitudinal and behaviour change, on both the individual and community level.

Peer education is an informal style of educating where the peer and not the outside professional is used to bring about change. Peer education utilises participatory and communication based learning methods. It is cost effective and culturally appropriate.

What do HIV peer educators do?

Peer education involves many activities, which include:

  • To organise and present educational sessions
  • To conduct informal individual and small group discussions on HIV/AIDS and related topics
  • To facilitate video screenings and discussions around issues raised
  • To develop their own material used for their information sessions
  • To plan and evaluate all information sessions
  • To have good record keeping skills
  • To motivate attitudinal and behaviour change amongst their peers
  • To provide support to their peers
  • To refer their peers for VCT (testing) and adjunct counselling services, if necessary
  • To encourage their peers to know their HIV status and to be a source of support if they go through the testing process
  • To have knowledge of the workplace policy to educate their peers on their rights within the workplace
  • To provide detailed information to their peers on safer sexual practices

Qualities peer educators need to have:

  • Eagerness to work with HIV and behaviour change
  • Non-judgemental attitude
  • Show respect and caring toward HIV positive people


Trainers should work with peer educators in such a way that enables them to engage in self-evaluation, to know the basic facts around HIV, STI’s and TB as well as be able to communicate well and plan training materials and events.

The following is a guide to topics that could be included in a peer education-training programme:

Introduction and ground work:

  • To dispel myths & to investigate the attitudes we hold toward HIV and AIDS and the people who are infected / affected by HIV.
  • To understand what peer education is and to know the roles a peer educator is expected to fulfill.
  • To know the qualities of a good peer educator

HIV Information:

  • Know the epidemiology of HIV/ AIDS, the implications of HIV/AIDS and the history of the disease.
  • Differentiate between HIV and AIDS
  • Describe how HIV can be transmitted and how HIV cannot be transmitted.
  • Understand basic immune functioning and to know how HIV attacks the immune system
  • Understand the progression (stages) of the disease
  • Explain STI’s and the link between HIV and STI’s
  • Explain TB and the link between HIV and TB
  • Understand basic antiretrovirals (ARV’s)

Safer sex

  • Discuss prevention methods
  • Demonstrate how to use male & female condoms
  • Understand behaviour change and negotiation skills


  • Demonstrate knowledge of the voluntary counselling and testing process (VCT)
  • Describe and explore positive living with regards to someone who is HIV positive
  • Describe home-care for people infected and affected by HIV/AIDS
  • Demonstrate knowledge of HIV/AIDS and the law
  • Explain their organisations workplace policy

Facilitation skills:

  • Understand and demonstrate facilitation skills
  • Understand different facilitation methods
  • Demonstrate and know about working with different materials
  • Understand adult learning principles
  • Demonstrate competence with the planning of interventions, as well as implementation and evaluation skills

Support skills:

  • Understand and demonstrate basic communication skills
  • Explain available referrals and resources
  • Understand stress management techniques


In-house selection is usually how peer educators are chosen. A request for volunteers is usually made and the company needs to look out for people who have demonstrated initiative in the past, people who are committed to their work and to the idea of HIV education. They also need to volunteer for the role as peer educator. Companies could also arrange for outside organisations to evaluate prospective candidates for the role. Selectors need to bear in mind that peer educators need to possess most of the following qualities in order to effectively meet the role of peer educator:

  • Eagerness to work with HIV and behaviour change
  • Non-judgmental attitude
  • Show respect and caring toward HIV positive people
  • Accepted + respected by their peers
  • They should be able to communicate well and persuasively with others
  • Good interpersonal skills, including listening skills and empathy
  • Time and energy

Think about how many peer educators you want to recruit and train. Recruit and train more than you need as some may drop out of the programme over time.

People living with HIV or AIDS often make for insightful and sensitive peer educators

Trained health workers are often effective peer educators

HR personnel are good to have on the training, as they are often good at maintaining and updating the peer education programme



The organisation can put certain activities in place in order to ensure that the peer education programme is sustained. The activities needed include:

Follow-up training may be needed in order to gain additional skills or if new developments or information in the field become available. It may also be a good idea to just refresh skills after a period of time working in the field
Regular meetings for all peer educators and HR (if possible), where educators can discuss information sessions in terms of what worked, what educators could do differently, any new material or developments within the field can be shared, training techniques are discussed as well as any personal difficulties
Besides all peer educators being responsible for keeping up to date with HIV/AIDS information, it is important to have an appointed person who is able to monitor and implement new HIV/AIDS information (this role is usually undertaken by HR)
Providing both monetary incentives and non-monetary incentives (e.g., T-shirts, ribbons, materials etc.) has been shown to act as a means of motivation for peers
Providing peers with their own educational materials, such as a flipcharts or posters etc
Referral resources set-up
Special activities just for fun to ensure motivation and stress release
Links and support from other community based organisations or projects
Opportunities for experienced peer educators to teach and/or mentor new recruitees

HIV AIDS Peer Training Mentoring and Supervision:

Working in the field of HIV/AIDS and generally acting as a care-giver puts enormous emotional strain on a person. It is therefore recommended that Peer Educators receive mentoring every second or third month in order to deal with their experiences and emotional responses. Mentoring and supervision also allow for update information and skills training.

The mentorship or supervision would usually involve the following methods:

Group discussions of difficult experiences and possible coping techniques
One – on -one discussions
Observation and evaluation of training and basic communication / counselling skills

The success of your peer education programme is often reliant on the fact that your organisation provides support and good mentorship.


HIV/AIDS Tailor-Made Services (TMS) offers comprehensive peer education training courses as well as support / follow-up management of your peer education programme. Our company provides services related to:

Peer educator courses:

Tailor-Made Services (TMS) offers:

5-Day Comprehensive Peer Educator Course (Information, communication + counselling skills)

2-Day Peer Educator Information Course (Information only)

1-Day Communication and Basic Counselling Skills Workshop (Only communication + counselling skills, for peer educators who only received the information section in previous training)

Research has shown that a more comprehensive course is beneficial as the peer educator learns added skills that are needed for a successful peer education programme. In the past peer education programmes focused on the information component alone and the educators where given no basic counselling / communication skills. These skills have proven to be essential in that they equip the peer educator to deal with concerns and possible counselling issues that may arise either from their status as peer educator or from the information discussed during their information sessions.

Selection of peers:

We will help with the selection process of identified or volunteer peer educators by interviewing them to access their personal characteristics or we could provide your organisation with the interview checklist for in-house interviewing of possible candidates.

HIV/AIDS TMS will update educators on the latest developments within the field and any new training materials available.

We offer mentoring to the peer educators and individual counselling for HIV positive people.

We also offer stress management workshops to help peer educators deal with the difficulties of HIV/AIDS related work specifically and care-giving generally.

We offer organisations an extensive referral network. We can help organisations to create links and build relationships with community based organisations.

We will distribute literature, pamphlets and posters.

Supervision / Mentoring:

Mentoring of peer educators every 2-4 months is offered whereby educators are able to get new material, discuss case management issues, general programme and educational concerns as well as any personal concerns with a member of our team.


We offer pre-and post-test counselling on site. We offer confidential, ongoing counselling sessions for HIV Positive people by registered psychologists (on or off site). We also offer general counselling for employees around any issue that may be interfering with work performance or the person’s general well being (off or onsite).


We offer onsite VCT with professional pre-and post-test counselling. Professional nurses will perform the tests and rapid tests will be used so the results will be available on the same day. We will keep confidential results and a report will be written regarding general findings from the VCT undertaken.

Condom Distribution:

Free condoms for small to medium businesses will be made available.