HIV and AIDS has, over the years, wrecked havoc and once threatened human existence.Despite experiments over the years to find HIV and AIDS treatment and management strategies, HIV still claimed lives and left many infected. Parents faced the inevitable agony of giving birth to HIV positive children who normally would not survive beyond their toddler years. Experiments for solutions continued and highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) was rolled out in South Africa in the new millennium (Li, Jaspan, O Brien, Rabie, Cotton & Natrass, 2009:751; Human Sciences Research Council, 2005:4). This gave hope to the new generation as it meant people could live longer with this disease as long as they adhered to treatment. This study was informed by a concern that these adolescents are transitioning into adulthood, yet they are incapacitated and are facing many challenges in dealing with their HIV status.
The goal of this study was to investigate challenges faced by adolescents with perinatal HIV and AIDS. The researcher conducted the study using a qualitative approach by conducting face-to-face semi-structured interviews with 12 (twelve) adolescents with perinatal HIV from Hammanskraal Jubilee Hospital s Wellness Clinic. A purposive non-probability sampling technique was used to select the participants for the study. The study findings revealed a range of challenges these adolescents are facing and experiencing in their everyday lives. These include stigma, discrimination; lack of education and information on perinatal HIV and AIDS. There is also a challenge of non-disclosure of HIV status to the infected child and pressure not to disclose the status to significant others. The adolescents are also struggling with issues of compliance and adherence to medication, lack of awareness on available support systems as well as failure to utilise the systems due to non-disclosure. At one time, this disease did affect academic progress of some of the adolescents, as the researcher observed that some were in their late teens and still in primary schools. The researcher concluded that adolescents with perinatal HIV and AIDS indeed have dilemmas in their day-to-day lives; hence, they need support from all sectors.
In light of these findings, the recommendations include the need for education on the HIV and AIDS pandemic as well as perinatal HIV and AIDS. There is also need to establish supportive services for these adolescents by creating platforms for supporting each other and sharing experiences. It is also recommended that a comprehensive education on HIV and AIDS to the caregivers and schoolteachers of these adolescents is given in order to empower and equip them to deal with this unique and demanding age group and also be empowered in treatment management. Furthermore, the study recommends an anti-stigma awareness in the communities to create a comfortable interaction between the HIV-positive people and the community at large. It is also recommended that further research must explore the experiences of and challenges faced by the caregivers and significant others.
Mini Dissertation (MSW)--University of Pretoria, 2016.