The psychological well being of learners affected by HIV
Tenyane, Tsihoane Maria
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The aims of this research were to investigate the condition of the psychological well being of learners affected or orphaned by HIV/AIDS; investigate the way in which these learners perform at schools, investigate the nature and extent of social support these learners get from their families, community and society; investigate the condition of the physical well being of these learners; and make recommendations for their psychosocial support in order to enhance and strengthen their psychological well being. Findings from the literature review revealed that when HIV infected parents fall ill and die as a result of AIDS, usually a child or adolescent's life also often falls apart. This is an indication that with HIV and AIDS effects, the hardships hit well before children and adolescents are orphaned. This is to say, first a parent or breadwinner becomes ill with HIV or AIDS, and is unable to work. Then the entire family feels the economic impact - for example, children especially girls, must often drop out of school to go to work so that they can provide food for the family, care for their ill parents and look after their siblings. Such a phenomenon leads to the following psycho social problems in the lives of these children and adolescents: experience of grief and bereavement among children and adolescents affected by HIV/AIDS; introduction of major social change which may involve moving from a middle or upper -class urban home to a poor rural relative's home. It may involve separation from siblings, which is often done arbitrarily when orphaned children are divided among relatives without due considerations of their needs; increase in new labour responsibilities and instances of labour and work responsibility being given to children as young as five. Responsibilities and work in the household also include domestic chores, subsistence agriculture and provision of care giving to very young, old and ill members of the household. Work outside of the home may involve a variety of formal and informal labour, including farm work and begging for food and supplies in both community and beyond; a phenomenon of irregular school attendance and absconding from school; suffering from malnutrition and may not have access to available health services; vulnerability to HIV infection. Their risk for infection arises from the early onset of sexual activity, commercial sex and sexual abuse, all of which may me precipitated by economic need, peer pressure, lack of supervision, exploitation and rape; likelihood that as the ratio of the dependent children increases as a result of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, so will the chances of children being lured into trafficking and sexual exploitation; and manifestations of negative emotional responses such as fear, anger, depression, anxiety, feelings of dependency and so on. Findings from the empirical research revealed that learners who formed the population sample of this research are unhappy and sad to see their family members, that is, their parents and breadwinners, being ill, and as a result their health is also psycho socially affected; they do not have and cannot afford school uniform and there are no people or relatives who can help them with money to buy school uniform; and their mental health is not in good condition and that they had been ill, suffering from stress in the last six months. Recommendations with psycho-educational implications were made in the last chapter.
- ETD@Vaal Triangle Campus