12 (a) Examples of problems faced by children in HIV/AIDS households
Participants were asked to list examples of the problems facing children living in HIV/AIDS households.
In terms of the responses, 9 % felt that such children were also exposed to some form of child abuse or exploitation ranging from - emotional, sexual or physical abuse to economic exploitation. Forms of commercial sexual exploitation listed by participants included prostitution, child trafficking or abduction. Participants also listed child labour as a serious problem faced by this group of particularly vulnerable children.
Respondents (3%) felt these children were in danger of heading households and becoming caregivers for younger siblings with limited economic and parental / adult
Access to education was seen by 10% of the respondents as problematic to these children. Problems included inability to pay school fees, dropping out of school, poor school performance and (earning difficulties leading to increased levels of illiteracy.
A significant number of the participants (23%) felt these children would experience emotional problems including: distress; aggression; depression; demotivation; lack of support; inability to express their emotions or share their pain with others; feeling invisible; not feeling free, fatigue; feeling bored, lost isolated and unaccepted; hopeless; stressed, suicidal; rejected; lack of respect, emotional scarring; lack of trust, loneliness; low self-esteem / confidence; uncertainty; feeling vulnerable and withdrawn. Participants felt children would experience trauma and a general sense of fear associated with losing parents or seeing them fading away, and would have to learn how to cope with Death. It was felt that children would be concerned about future care.
Participants (4%) felt that children would manifest psychological problems and behavioural problems like for example social phobias, obsessive compulsive disorder and signs of anxiety. Respondents thought such children had the potential to become bullies and dropouts from school due to their behaviour problems and inability to communicate with others. Children might also display inappropriate behaviours such as being dishonest or acting irresponsibly. Children may lack concentration. It was felt that children living in HIV/AIDS households could become prone to stealing and substance abuse.
1% of the respondents felt children would experience peer group pressure. 3% listed financial problems and a lack of income in households as a major problem facing such children.
Neglect was seen as a major problem affecting this group by 5% of the participants. Neglect was seen as a lack of adult supervision (parental care) and a lack or decrease in care as evidenced by poor cleanliness or hygiene. Parental negligence or decreased adult supervision was seen by the participants as a reason for children becoming involved in negative activities.
Children lacking support was seen by 4% of the participants as problematic. Support included family, community support and moral support.
7% of the respondents identified a shortage of food and malnutrition as the biggest problem facing these children.
8% of the sample felt that the children would face problems associated with dealing with the disease itself. For example not knowing whether they are HIV positive or not. Not being able to live a healthy life. Having no access to medication and treatment or not taking medication. If infected being regularly sick and fighting off opportunistic diseases.
Such children are at greater risk of becoming infected and many have to learn how to care for an ill person, administer drugs and handle blood soaked items.
Respondents (4%) felt that such children face a threat to their survival and security as a result of poverty. Children were bscoming increasingly impoverished as a result of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
Stigma or being teased was seen by 2 % of the participants as being a major problem for HIV/AIDS infected/affected children.
Participants (1%) identified the need for the concerned children to undergo bereavement counselling.
Being orphaned was highlighted by 3% of the sample, 1% identified a lack of clothing and safety or not being in their own environment respectively and 3% viewed discrimination as the major problem facing affected children.
Finally 10% of the respondents listed general problems which they thought may affect these children. These included the need for more foster parents. The fact that children might have to work having less time for leisure or rest. The possibility of these children having a normal childhood is compromised. They are ostracised from their peers. They may have to travel around a lot. They often become homeless and are unable to fend for themselves and survive without parents. Many end up living on the street. Such children who lack a family environment are in need of guidance. Affected children may have to take on a lot of responsibility without much freedom. Children may be unable to communicate their needs and may not have access to services. With no-one to care for them children infected or affected by HIV/AIDS tend to look older. In such circumstance many children have to share the same room. These children may not be educated about using protection.