Home>Services>Health and Deviant Behavior>HIV/AIDS Psychosocial Assistance Center

Social intervention concerns, which are quite evident in the goal that guided the creation of this charitable institution (to provide a concerted response to family-related problems) combine, from the outset, with work in partnership with the various local and national institutions and organizations.

The experience in GAF’s daily assistance service and the analysis of the social needs in the District (of Viana do Castelo) have enabled us to confirm the existence of serious shortfalls in terms of social inequalities in various segments of the populace. In order to respond to these needs, the GAF has been structuring its intervention so as to provide answers to related problems and those generating social exclusion (such as drug addiction and/or alcoholism, HIV-positive infection, delinquency, jail time previously served, homelessness, immigration, unemployment and/or precarious employment, socio-economic needs, family dysfunctionality and/or socio-family breakdown, domestic violence, children at risk, among others).

Thus, the GAF adopts a multidisciplinary, personalized and multidimensional intervention strategy, guiding its action/intervention so as to contribute toward social [re]integration and, subsequently, improving the quality of life of socially and/or economically disadvantaged groups, in an attempt to offset and minimize the impact of exclusion-generating factors, while promoting equal opportunities. And so, it provides services that are essentially free of charge (from assistance/monitoring to institutional sheltering), as monitored individuals/families are found to experience extreme economic shortages.

The GAF has been geared toward technical qualification and adopting intervention methodologies that are more accurate, controlled and deliberate. Through the concerted initiative of various modes of intervention, the GAF seeks to create conditions toward achieving a personal and family balance conducive to the co-construction of life projects based on differentiated assumptions. Therefore, the idea is to outline new life goals (that are realistic, feasible, concrete and time-dependent), by fostering a critical attitude, self-esteem and a sense of personal competence, empowerment, recognition and development of personal, relationship and job skills, while displaying individual and family strengths and skills.

Community Aid

This is geared to a target population that includes families/individuals experiencing economic shortage, providing technical services (psychological consultation, social and legal aid) while distributing foodstuffs, clothing and furniture, whenever necessary.

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Insertion Community

With capacity for 12 users under an accommodation scheme and 18 as daytime lodging, this is essentially geared to the homeless while providing housing and meals services along with a set of activities that fall under various modes of intervention.

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RSI Protocol

The target population includes families/individuals benefiting from the Rendimento Social de Inserção (RSI) or Social Integration Income, promoting their systematic and multidisciplinary monitoring.

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Housing Shelter

Geared to women who are domestic violence victims and their children, this constitutes a response in terms of a temporary shelter for risk situations while ensuring basic living conditions for sheltered persons (accommodation, meals, hygiene, health) in a safe, tranquil environment that is favorable to the co-construction of new life projects.

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Center for Assistance to Domestic Violence Victims

Geared to domestic violence victims, this center provides social and legal monitoring as well as psychological consultation, while ensuring, whenever necessary, the distribution of foodstuffs, clothing and furniture.

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Family Support and Parental Counseling Center

A differentiated service seeking to supplement the intervention of existing family support services, via a (multi)systemic, intensive intervention developed within actual contexts, and aiming to foster strengthening families and preventing physical, psychological and social adaptation problems for children and young people.

HIV/AIDS Psychosocial Assistance Center

O que é?

The GAF’s “Centro de Atendimento Psicossocial” (CAPS - Psychosocial Assistance Center) was created for the purpose of supporting persons infected, affected by and/or concerned with the problem of HIV/AIDS.

The Center is a full member of the National Civil Society Forum for HIV/AIDS, which was set up as an advisory structure of the present-day Directorate of the National Program for HIV/AIDS Infection: this studies, evaluates and submits proposals regarding government policies and decisions in the field of HIV/AIDS, while being recognized as an instrument of dialogue geared to lend a voice to people affected and infected by HIV nationwide. In this regard, this service is responsible in terms of community screening for infection with HIV and other STIs as well as in fighting the stigma and discrimination linked to this chronic disease in the district of Viana do Castelo.


Foster positive development of people infected, affected by and/or concerned with the problem of HIV/AIDS.

Specific goals

• Promote health education, the adoption of wholesome behaviors and in terms of self-care;

• Reduce the impact of an HIV/AIDS diagnosis on the individual/family;

• Support and guide the construction of an alternative life project based on more effective family roles, routines and rules;

• Foster the development of personal, vocational and social skills;

• Provide an information space for giving out materials on HIV/AIDS;

• Lend support in residual individual/ family situations requiring assistance in terms of shower room, laundry room, cafeteria, foodstuffs/clothing and furniture;

• Develop training initiatives geared to corporate boards/technical and non-technical employees of local bodies;

• Collaborate with educational, health, or other institutions requesting CAPS intervention as part of health and HIV prevention education;

• Fight to defend the rights of people living with HIV and AIDS;

• Promote early detection of HIV and hepatitis infection within the community.


Bearing in mind the attaining of the set goals, the CAPS provides:

• Psychological Monitoring

• Social Support

• Legal Aid

• Logistical in cases of financial difficulty

• Training

• The fostering of health and social reintegration

• Preventing HIV infection within the community

• Quick, free-of-charge and confidential HIV and hepatitis testing within community settings

Every year, the CAPS marks the following:

• World AIDS Day (December 1st), through initiatives aimed at raising community awareness to adopting wholesome lifestyle habits and sexual behaviors, as well as to early HIV detection.

• European early HIV and hepatitis detection week (last week in November) – conducts free-of-charge, confidential community screening in collaboration with the Projeto Adições street team

• World Sexual Health Day (September 4th) – fosters a photo contest entitled, “Directly from the Heart. Your love, Your life,” combined with an awareness-raising initiative in partnership with hotel units in the district.

• World Hepatitis Day (July 28th) – conducts confidential, free-of-charge community screening, in collaboration with the Projeto Adições street team

• December 17th – Marks the Day for Ending Violence against Sex Workers

Project currently being developed:

• Training Initiative entitled “HIV and AIDS Infection: Life takes on a whole new meaning” Geared to experts and non-experts from the district’s institutions, in order to foster co-responsibility of the latter with promoting health, with social reintegration and with providing services to the districts residents who are infected with HIV, thereby contributing toward minimizing the sense of discrimination and the stigma.

Projeto Para além das grades: Promoção da saúde no estabelecimento prisional de Viana do Castelo
Visa promover a saúde em contexto prisional contribuindo para minimizar a incidência negativa do VIH/SIDA, outras IST e tuberculose, bem como o incremento do bem estar biopsicossocial na população reclusa e dos guardas prisionais no EP de Viana do Castelo.

The Cotton Candy Project
Education regarding affections and sexuality in preschool, involving kindergarten teachers, parents, and children ages 4-5. For further information, visit

The Voices Project
The Frei Bartolomeu dos Mártires School Grouping, in partnership with the UAT, will be developing the project geared to 7th-grade classes and extending over three consecutive years. Its primary goal will be to provide health education through art in a school context.

• National Screening Network

Completed projects:

Mission S
Sex education through art in secondary school – implemented from 2011 to 2013 at the Pintor José de Brito School

It’s cool to be a boy
Implemented at the Casa dos Rapazes (“Boys’ House”), in 2012 – training to experts and monitors, as well as intervention with young people in order to address sexuality and abusive approaches

Films produced:

“Sorrir para a Vida” (Smile at Life)
To mark World AIDS Day, in 2014, the CAPS, in partnership with Filipa Valente, have produced the film, which reflects the need of HIV and Aids sufferers who are part of the GAF’s mutual aid group to raise community awareness to the strength they currently possess so as to fight against the persisting stigma against them, which derives from the unity created at the meeting sessions!

Colors of Exclusion
Produced in 2014 by Filipa Valente for the final project for her technical course in Communication, Marketing, Public Relations and Advertising at the ETAP in Vila Nova de Cerveira. This comprised a partnership involving the CAPS, the UAT, the Additions Project and the Integration Community

“DeSida” (a play on the word “decide,” using “Sida,” the Portuguese word for Aids)
In 2009, as part of the PRO-RI - Promoting and Reintegrating Project, Reintegration PRI of the CRI of Viana do Castelo, funded by the IDT, and the Psychosocial Care Center for people infected with and affected by HIV/AIDS (CAPS HIV/AIDS), a request was made for collaboration from the AO-NORTE Association in producing a documentary entitled “DeSida,” which deals with direct discourses from HIV/AIDS sufferers living in the district of Viana do Castelo, regarding life constraints associated with being HIV positive and/or having Aids.


• 1 Senior Social Service Officer

• 1 Psychologist

Drug Addiction Support Unit

What is it?

The GAF’s Drug Addiction Support Unit (UAT) was created to address the needs of individuals/families that are or have been involved in instances of substance use/abuse. Thus, the UAT intervention comes together in order to support and foster the positive development of individuals that use/abuse substances or who are found to be at risk - either because they are going through an abstinence period, or due to the existence of factors that could lead to said use/abuse.

A genuinely collaborative and significant intervention for the individual is implemented. The adopted intervention strategy hinges on forging a close, empathetic relationship between the individual/family and the UAT team. Therefore, individuals’ link to valency – based on being identified with the service provided and with the underlying philosophy, as the individual is recognized as being the focus of intervention – constitutes a first step toward developing a collaborative and significant work that is intensive and highly focused on the idiosyncrasies of the individual/family while fostering the transition to growing levels of functionality and adaptivity.


Supporting and fostering the positive development of individuals and/or families whose life stories show problems and vulnerabilities associated with substance abuse.

Specific goals

• Improve the quality of life and the perceived well-being of individuals/families;

• Provide immediate and tangible improvement to the living conditions of target individuals/families;

• Reduce harmful impacts caused by substance use/abuse;

• Enhance personal and relationship skills that facilitate complete and positive development as well as the adjusted and adaptive functioning of the individual and of the family;

• Foster the activation of personal and family processes and change, of adaptation resilience mechanisms;

• Support the (re)construction and implementation of a differentiated, realistic, adaptive and functional life project hinging centered on guidance toward a lifestyle change;

• Disseminate specific and systematized knowledge so as to increase social awareness as to what substance use/abuse entails, along with the risk factors associated with them, from a generally preventive perspective.


Intervention Strategy

integrated, providing social, psychological, educational, legal and cultural answers,

structured, in order to deal with various kinds of substances, with a different legal status,

adapted to the prevalence of intakes, while favoring tertiary (in cases where it can be said there is actual dependency) and secondary prevention (in cases where intake, whether or not abusive, occurs under circumstances where there is an eminent risk of dependency), and

multidimensional,given the economic, social, educational, legal, health and work-related problems among the populace.

Secondary Prevention

As part of secondary prevention, the work consists of mitigating the prevalence of intakes, to prevent dependency from taking hold. In terms of tertiary prevention, a key area of intervention developed by the Drug Addiction Support Unit, the work can undertaken before (the relationship and request for help), during (dedramatizing ambivalence and motivation) and after treatment (social integration). Generally speaking, drug use consequences are mitigated, social rehabilitation and reintegration, while preventing a relapse and actively fostering the individual’s (re)integration in society by providing new opportunities and contexts.

Services Provided

• Psychological support (psychological consultation for individuals and couples, psychological consultancy, and family intervention;

• Social and educational;

• Legal information and support;

• Group meetings, skills development and training groups;

• Experimental workshops and occupational activities;

• Support in job-seeking and in maintaining employment, as well as school and vocational training opportunities;

• Logistical support as part of meeting basic needs (shower room, cafeteria, linen room, laundry, foodstuffs, furniture).


• 1 Psychologist

• 1 Social Educator

• 2 Workshop Monitors


Occupational workshops aimed at developing across-the-board skills that facilitate socio-vocational integration.

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Funded by the Employment and Vocational Training Institute, this provides the community with car-wash services by hand and aims to promote the social and occupational integration of unemployed and disadvantaged persons relative to the job market.

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