Impact of HIV comprehensive care for guardians on their capacity to meet the needs of affected children, Kibera, Nairobi Kenya.
Kiarie, Jackline Njeri
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HIV/AIDS impacts on the needs of the affected children on many levels, directly and indirectly, economically and socially. It affects the social and economic status of affected families, leaving the children of the infected parents and guardians vulnerable, increasing the severity and duration of the epidemic. However, with the recent adoption of comprehensive care for HIV/AIDS infected individuals, the quality of life of those infected may improve as the devastating effect of the illness may be reduced. This study was aimed at assessing the impact of comprehensive care for the HIV/AIDS infected parents and guardians on the affected children. The study was a comparative cross-sectional study based in Kibera. The cases were HIV/AIDS infected parents and guardians enrolled in the comprehensive care program for a period of not less than six months, and having children in the age group of 6-17 years. The controls were healthy individuals picked on the nearest neighbour approach, having children in the same age group. The main objective of the study was to establish the social, economic and psychological impacts of HIV/AIDS on affected children living in Kibera. A comparative cross-sectional study design was employed, and data collected using interview schedules, semi structured questionnaires and observation checklist. A total of 700 study subjects were interviewed. The data was analyzed using SPSS Programme: correlation and Chi-square were used to determine association between categorical variables. The results indicated that a total of 73.8% of the HIV/AIDS parents and guardians reported as facing financial constraints as compared to only 53% of the healthy parents and guardians. There was more school absenteeism in the affected children (32.8%) as compared to 24% of the other children. The affected children living with the HIV/AIDS infected parents or guardians were still more susceptible to poor health than their counter parts living with the healthy parents/guardians. The magnitude of the differences between the affected children and the ordinary children was not very large as had been the case previously, generally ranging from 7-15 percent except in a few cases. The impact of the comprehensive care therefore is already being felt in most of the HIV /AIDS affected households. There existed a positive correlation between disclosure of HIV status and duration on ART for 2 years of 0.162 at 0.05confidence level and 3 years and over 0.183 at O.Olconfidence level. There was also significant correlation between quality of food and duration on comprehensive care of 0.187 at 0.01 confidence level. Various coping mechanisms were adopted by the HIV/AIDS infected parents and guardians that included, getting assistance in schools: school fees wavering, supply of uniforms and stationery for their children, joining various support groups from where they were able to get assistance in the form of food, medication, membership to merry go rounds, and psychological assistance in the form of group therapies. Other coping mechanisms involved seeking assistance from the children. Financially empowering PLWHAs will improve and prolong the capacity to care for the children affected by HIV/AIDS. Most of the comprehensive care programs have made little or no effort on the part of the children. There is therefore need for interventions to reach children affected by AIDS, and also include a package for the parents that will help them make necessary arrangements for their children.