The psychological experiences of learners affected by HIV
Mbele, Nomalizo Constance
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This study focuses on investigating the psychological needs of orphans affected by HIV/AIDS and how these learners can be supported in order to cope effectively with the challenges posed by the HIV/AIDS pandemic. The study needed to understand the psychological well being of learners affected or orphaned by HIV/AIDS, their general performance at school, the nature and extent of social support they get from their families, communities and societies and their physical well being. Suggestions for an ecosystemic theoretical framework to be infused in all psycho-social support programmes geared to strengthen the psycho-social well-being of AIDS orphans were made. Orphans are affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic emotionally, physically, spiritually and socially. Affected learners have fewer opportunities for schooling and education, may suffer from malnutrition. They are themselves often highly vulnerable to HIV infection and are at higher risk of developing psychological problems. In this study, a case study design was followed. Interviews were conducted with a sample of participants including orphaned learners living in a child-headed household, class-educator, an aunt and a health worker in Soweto. The researcher recruited participants by means of snowball sampling. Results revealed that learners orphaned by HIV/AIDS suffer emotional trauma and grief, illness and stress. They have scholastic problems, suffer stigmatization and discrimination, miss out on educational opportunities and experience poverty. This is an indication of a need for social support. It is for this reason that an ecosystemic support programme which schools can adopt and adapt in order to develop the psychological and social resilience of learners affected and orphaned by the HIV/AIDS pandemic is proposed.
- Education