Psychosocial experiences of perinatally HIV infected adolescents residing in child and youth care centers in Pretoria.
Mavangira, Vimbai Precious.
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The roll-out of Anti-retroviral Therapy in South Africa has enabled perinatally HIV infected children to reach the adolescent phase. It is important to acknowledge that the psycho-social experiences of perinatally HIV infected children differ from other adolescents. This study explored the psychosocial experiences of perinatally HIV infected adolescents residing in Child and Youth Care Centres in Pretoria. Using qualitative interpretive-descriptive methodology, the sample consisted of eight perinatally HIV infected adolescents, two social workers and ten child and youth care workers from two Child and Youth Care Centres. Data was collected using semi-structured in-depth interviews with perinatally HIV positive adolescents and two focus groups were held with child and youth care workers and social workers. The use of these two data collection methods enhanced the reliability and trustworthiness of the data. Using social constructionism as the key conceptual framework, there were four key themes and subthemes that distilled from the interviews and focus groups. The results revealed that perinatally HIV infected adolescents have difficulties discussing their status and that they used blocking as a coping strategy to avoid the subject. Disclosure was difficult for the adolescents as they were acutely aware of stigma and discrimination. With regards to adherence to medication there was lack of self-efficacy as the adolescents relied mostly on Child and Youth care workers and social workers. Finally in both Child and Youth Care centres, lack of on-going disclosure and discussion about HIV hindered the availability of psychosocial support services. This study concludes that child and youth care centres should develop programs which focus on support topics such as sexuality, disclosure and self-esteem. The Department of Social development should implement psychosocial support training specifically for Child and Youth care workers and Social workers working with perinatally HIV positive children.
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