Caregivers Challenges in Facilitating Vulnerable Orphaned Children Cope with Hiv/Aids Stigma in Bauchi Metropolitan, Nigeria
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prevalence of HIV and AIDS stigma on children has caused a burden on caregivers, HIV-positive children, and their families. About 17 million children around the world have lost one or both parents due to HIV and AIDS and left to caregivers (UNAIDS, 2019. USAID, 2021). This study explored the range of challenges caregivers encounter in assisting vulnerable children and HIV/AIDS orphans facing issues related to social stigmatization. The main aim was to highlight major challenges encountered by caregivers in the Bauchi metropolis. Specifically, the objectives were set to identify the practical issues affecting the role of caregivers with religion as a significant cultural factor. The majority of caregivers of these children live in sub-Saharan Africa with Nigeria accounting for an estimated 1.9 million cases (UNAIDS, 2019, USAID, 2021). However, despite collective efforts by caregivers, families, and communities aimed towards protecting, caring, and supporting infected affected children, the scourge of stigma has remained high. Reports indicate that more is needs to be done to support caregivers for them to look after those children (UNAIDS, 2019). Therefore, this study focuses on caregivers' predicament while helping HIV and AIDS vulnerable orphaned children in Bauchi Metropolis. The study highlights the challenges caregivers experience as a result of stigmatization reinforce by cultural and religious influence among others, in making children living with HIV and AIDS cope with the epidemic. The purpose of the study was to understand the position of caregiver's characteristics situations and impact culture, and religion's impact on the care of children with HIV and AIDS in Bauchi Metropolitan. The study was guided by two theories, the Stigmatization theory by Goffman, and the Structuration theory by Giddens. The sequential transformative approach of quantitative and qualitative methods (mixed method) was used in this study through a descriptive cross-sectional survey. SPSS was used to analyze the quantitative data using descriptive statistics such as means, frequency, and percentages, while NVivo software was used to analyze qualitative data synthesis and prose thematically. Bauchi metropolis has about 218 caregivers of children orphaned & vulnerable to HIV and AIDS. Data collection questionnaires and interview guides were used. Key informant interviews were conducted on government agencies and NGOs. The findings revealed that caregivers faced challenges and difficulties while dealing with orphaned and vulnerable children with HIV and AIDS. These challenges were mainly due to lack of education from most of the caregivers, lack of knowledge on how to handle stigma cases, and lack of consultation habit (inquiry) that make them unable to properly handle issues of stigma. In addition, the government is not doing enough to support caregivers in helping those HIV children cope with the stigma. The influence of culture, religion, and society has also made it difficult for caregivers to help children with HIV and AIDS to overcome stigma. The study, therefore, recommends the empowerment of caregivers with skills acquisitions, training, and workshops, and to be part of the decision-making on programs related to HIV and AIDS.