Parental AIDS Status and Death: Its Impact on Ghanaian Childrens’ Psychological Well-being
Background: Ghana has an estimated one million orphans, 250,000 are due to AIDS parental deaths. This is the first study that examined the impact of parental HIV/ AIDS status and death on the mental health of children in Ghana. Methods: In a cross-sectional survey, 4 groups of children (AIDS orphans, orphans of other causes, children living with AIDS parents, and non-orphaned children) aged between 10 and 19 years were interviewed on their hyperactivity, emotional, conduct, and peer problems using the Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire. Results: AIDS orphans showed very high levels of peer problems whilst both orphaned groups scored similarly high on conduct problems. Hyperactivity showed no difference and was very low in the entire sample. Emotional problems were very high in all the groups except among the nonorphaned children. Conclusion: Orphaned and children living with AIDS parents are at heightened risks for emotional and behavioural disorders. Future efforts should focus on policy proposals to eliminate these problems. Parallel to this, researchers should see these findings as generated hypotheses (rather than conclusions) calling for further exploration of specific causal linkages between HIV/AIDS and children’ mental health using more rigorous research tools and designs.
Key Words: HIV/AIDS, Orphans, Africa, Conduct and Emotional Problems.