For many, getting tested for HIV can seem like an impossible experience. There’s the fear of diagnosis, of course, but also the fear of being seen: if you’re spotted at an HIV clinic, you could be associated with a virus stigmatized by most of the world.
Such perceptions shape the course of Janipher’s days. Often, she is the first person a client sees upon entering Alive Medical Services (AMS). As part of the front desk department, Janipher works with three other colleagues to receive hundreds of people every day. The team helps clients feel comfortable and cared for throughout their time at the clinic, decreasing waiting time and delays.
“I work with clients of all different characters, colors and classes,” Janipher said. “My job is to show everyone they are welcome no matter who they are, and to help them get the care they need.”
Such inclusiveness is important to Janipher. When she was just a young girl, her father passed away unexpectedly, leaving Janipher and her six siblings without a home. His land was seized and sold, but finally, Janipher’s aunt took her in as the 14th child in her family.
With a family so large, it was only through hard work that Janipher was able to make it through school.
“Life wasn’t easy, but I worked hard,” Janipher said. “I was one of the best students at my university. Because of that, they paid for half of my tuition.”
For the past three years, Janipher has worked as an administrative assistant at AMS. She has overcome the struggles from her childhood — but they have also helped Janipher empathize with patients when they are going through a difficult time.
Monday through Saturday, Janipher receives clients, updates patient information, and keeps records. She also enrolls new clients into the system if they test positive for HIV.
“Every client passes through our hands,” Janipher said. “We monitor every step of their visit to the clinic, and make sure things are running smoothly.”
Since she began working at AMS in 2014, Janipher has watched the clinic’s client load rapidly expand in size: today, the front desk team attends to an average of 170 to 250 clients each day. By greeting each one of those clients with warmth, Janipher helps patients feel at ease at AMS, facilitating their return in the future.
“When clients first come in, they often seem hopeless,” Janipher said. “Our department smiles so we can keep them optimistic.”