Psychological well–being of HIV–affected children and their experience of a community based HIV stigma reduction and wellness enhancement intervention
Phetoe, Tshadinyana Merriam
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The HIV epidemic does not only affect people living with HIV or AIDS but has a large impact on the children. They are being stigmatised by association. There is paucity in research on HIV stigma interventions. In addition, existing interventions aimed at reducing HIV stigma are not community based and very few are aimed at HIV-affected children. The purpose of this study was to assess the change on psychological well-being of HIV-affected children after a Community based HIV Stigma Reduction and Wellness Enhancement Intervention, and to explore and describe their experiences thereof. This study formed part of a larger Community based HIV Stigma Reduction and Wellness Enhancement Intervention project. A mixed method convergent parallel design involving quantitative and qualitative data collection, analyses and integration of findings was applied. The sample was drawn from populations in the greater Potchefstroom urban area and rural Ganyesa in the North West Province. The children as participants in this study were children of PLHA in the larger study and were recruited using snowball sampling (n=11) and were between the ages 15 and 21 years. The quantitative component utilised a one group pre-test-repetitive-post-test design which was analysed by using IBM SPSS (ver. 20) by comparing t-test scores and F-ratios in ANOVA. The qualitative component of the study employed a holistic multiple case study approach and qualitative interpretive description and data were analysed by using thematic content and document analyses. The results indicated no significant difference between the urban and the rural groups in the sub-scales and total scores of mental well-being. The results of the total scores projected that the participants’ mental health was in the region of moderately mentally healthy. The in-depth interviews confirmed the three dimensions of the sub-scales indicating that they have verbalised similar experiences to the itemised sub-scales of emotional, social and psychological well-being. The intervention was a meaningful experience to the children. They gained knowledge about HIV stigma and how to cope with it; as well how to build relationships amongst themselves and with the PLHA. They gained a better understanding of their parents suffering from HIV and other PLHA as well as support of one another being in this difficult situation. Conducting the project led to them becoming empowered to act as leaders in HIV stigma reduction. The results of the in-depth interviews showed that the children gained a greater awareness of the process of the stigma and experienced a general increase in their knowledge throughout the workshop and the project. They formed meaningful relationships with other children and deepened their relationships with their parents and other PLHA. The children were empowered through these interventions to advocate against HIV stigma despite the challenges they faced. They gained confidence and experienced personal growth through their participation in the project. It is recommended that the findings of the study be applied in education to raise awareness of HIV stigma among psychology students and for training of practicing psychologists on their role in reducing HIV stigma and enhancing well-being of the PLHA and those living close to them. It could also be meaningful if the intervention were to be used for practice purposes where support is given to the newly diagnosed PLHA and those associated with them. Further research can be done to test sustainability of the intervention in a different context and with a bigger sample.
- Humanities