Challenges faced by young persons living with HIV: The case of children on the community outreach support programme in Harare, Zimbabwe
This study employed a mixed research methodology to investigate the challenges faced by children living with HIV in Harare, Zimbabwe. Structured questionnaires were administered to 34 randomly selected children who were beneficiaries of an initiative called the Community Outreach Programme. In-depth interviews were conducted with key informants who included the coordinators of the programme and other relevant stakeholders. Ethical considerations, including issues around consent and confidentiality, were strictly observed. The study established that children living with HIV faced a number of challenges, including ill-health, drug shortages, lack of a supplementary diet, stigma and discrimination, anxiety regarding the future and limited access to psychosocial support services such as counseling facilities. Although a number of community support service provisions such as food and medical assistance were made available to these children, many of the services were relief-oriented, with the service providers paying minimal attention to the need for initiatives that focus on capacity building in order to promote self-reliance. Recommendations included the need for stakeholders to initiate workable interventions that promote capacity building and self-reliance in order to guarantee availability of basic food stuffs, as well as those that facilitate sustained improvement in the supply of pediatric antiretroviral therapy (ART) regimens, continued lobbying and advocacy against stigma and discrimination of people living with HIV and improved access to psychosocial support.
Keywords: HIV and AIDS, orphaned child, antiretroviral therapy, stigma, discrimination, self-reliance Zimbabwe