The lived experiences of youths who have lost a parent to AIDS in Wannune, Nigeria : a descriptive phenomenological study.
Although the advent of the antiretroviral therapy is changing the morbidity and mortality of HIV and AIDS epidemic into a chronic manageable disease; it is still the leading cause of death among age group 15-59 years who are in their productive and reproductive years. The HIV and AIDS epidemic has therefore orphaned over 17 million young people worldwide but 90 percent of these orphans are residents of Sub Saharan Africa. This study explores and describes the lived experiences of youths who have lost a parent to AIDS in Wannune, Nigeria. Only AIDS orphans below the age of 18 years are eligible for support from governmental and non-governmental organizations in Nigeria. This study is focused on the unsupported AIDS orphaned youths between the ages of 18-24 years. Descriptive phenomenology informed the study design, data collection and analysis of data. Purposive and snowballing sampling was used to obtain a sample of six youths who have lost parents to AIDS related illnesses and who were unaffiliated to any support organizations in Wannune. Each participant was interviewed twice using a pre-prepared interview guide that comprised of open ended questions. The second interview served as a closure and debriefing interviews. The data was analysed using Colaizzi‟s (1978) method of phenomenological data analysis and this methodology facilitated the emergence of themes from the data. Six themes and 13 subthemes emerged from the study and these were grouped under the two objectives of the study. An exploration of the lived experience of youths who have lost parents to AIDS in Wannune demonstrated that participants encounter with AIDS virus started before the actual loss of the parents. The experience of the participants progressed in the following chronological order of experience: disruptive life changes before and after parental AIDS loss; secondary losses such as loss of educational opportunities; premature assumption of parenting roles; exposure to vulnerability and continued grief. The study identified that the participants demonstrated many needs for parenting skills, empowerment, coping skills and need for psychosocial support. This study builds on the existing body of knowledge and demonstrates that the negative adverse effect of AIDS-orphanhood does not abate after orphans become young adults at 18 years. The study concludes with a number of recommendations in relation to policy making and future research.
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