HIV remains a global health concern despite the efforts by different countries to combat the
infection. Perinatally acquired HIV affects a large number of children who are growing into
adolescence due to the widespread availability of antiretroviral treatment (ART). Adolescents with
perinatal HIV face a high rate of disease burden, health complications, greater need for ART and
high mortality rate than those who got infected during adolescence. The duration of HIV in the
adolescents’ bodies contributes to the long history of HIV complications and social stressors. The
adolescents who acquired HIV in their teens are likely to have a higher CD4 cell count and less
chances of viral resistance.
The aim of this study was to explore and describe the experiences of adolescents with perinatally
acquired HIV in Limpopo Province.
This was a qualitative study using a descriptive phenomenological approach, which seeks to
understand the experiences of the adolescents with perinatal HIV from their own viewpoint. The
design allowed the adolescents to describe their experiences as lived, and how they construct
meaning of their lives. A sample of 20 adolescents, males and females with acquired perinatal HIV
was selected purposefully to participate in the study. In-depth unstructured individual interviews were used to collect data from the participants, which
were audio-recorded with the participants’ permission. This was followed by probing questions
which obtained a rich, detailed data from the participants. This study utilised Giorgi’s method of
data analysis and three main themes and subthemes emerged from the study. All steps of Giorgi’s
method of analysis were employed.
The study findings revealed the various and difficult challenges that are faced by the adolescents
with perinatal HIV throughout their lives. Themes that emerged out of this study were as followed:
Acknowledgement of negative effects of perinatally acquired HIV, disclosure of HIV status and
distressing and disruptive social effects of HIV.
The adolescents with perinatal HIV emerge as a unique part of the society with special health care
needs related to them.
Dissertation (MCur)--University of Pretoria, 2018.