How to help a child who has been detected with HIV?
Created by Sugandha Tiwari Updated on Dec 01, 2017
Since the mankind came to know about the deadly AIDS virus there has been lots of misconceptions, myths and other horrendous tales spun around it that it became taboo to talk about AIDS openly. The first and foremost myth is that AIDS is just a sexually transmitted disease. While it is not exactly a myth, it is also not right to say that AIDS spreads only through having sex with multiple partners. AIDS can also happen through an infected blood transfusion; it can spread through using an infected needle. And for a child it can spread through an infected mother. And today on World AIDS Day, I would like to burst some myths and share with my readers all the facts about AIDS and how you can deal with a child who has been diagnosed with HIV virus. But before that let’s see what is AIDS.
What Is AIDS?
AIDS is the disease caused by the HIV virus. The word AIDS stand for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. “Acquired” means that the infected person got the infection from another person. When the virus enters someone’s body, it destroys the person’s immune cells so they cannot fight the infection. “Syndrome” means a collection of health problems or diseases.
Signs And Symptoms Of HIV+ Person/Child
The signs and symptoms of HIV mainly depend upon the types of infections or diseases that a person has acquired as a result of HIV infection. However, there are some common signs and symptoms of HIV/AIDS. They are.
- Weight loss
- Persistent fever
- Prolonged diarrhoea
- Night sweats
- Excessive tiredness
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck, armpits or groin
- Dry cough
- Shortness of breath
- Skin rashes
- Memory loss
- Difficult in concentration
- Sadness or depression
- Persistent herpes zoster
- Persistently painful legs
Physical Problems OF A Child With HIV
Children having HIV are generally observed to have certain physical problems such as
- Inadequate growth rate
- A child who is infected will occasionally have difficulties in eating which may cause poor nutrition and loss of weight
- The child will have frequent ill-health issues
- Poor nutrition and loss of weight affects the overall performance of the child
- The child will have less stamina
Psychological And Emotional Features Of A Child With HIV
Besides physical characteristics there are a lot of psychological and emotional features that the child will display. Some of the possible ones could be.
- Feelings of sadness and depression
- Episodes of aggression
- Lack of sleep
- Lack of concentration, particularly for children in school
- Worries about the future
- Fear of death
- Withdrawal from others, fearing that people will talk about their infection
- Discrimination and isolation, including being teased by schoolmates, friends, neighbours and relatives
How Can You Help The Child With HIV?
Here’s how you can help the child with HIV.
- Understanding the child: The child who is going through the journey will have his/her own unique set of challenges and fears. He/she too will have anxiety of the future, dreams and goals to accomplish, desires to fulfil, requirement of everyday needs to be met, feeling of love, affection, jealousy, anger, fun, excitement and everything else that any other child will have
- Sensitivity towards the child: What is important for the facilitators and the care givers in the environment to understand is the fact that the child with HIV at the end of the day is also just a child only. Our sensitivity towards this fact in itself can make a lot of difference in the overall intervention approach and attitude. Together with knowledge of HIV we can assist the child in growing and developing as normally as possible
Other Concerns – The Stigma
One of the key factors that defines this disease from other chronic illness is the “stigma” attached to it. There is a huge amount of shame associated with this illness. As a result of the attached stigma both the child and the family withdraw from the social circle and become emotionally cut off from the social support systems. For HIV infected children who live to adolescence, the normal developmental challenges of this stage, including puberty, sexuality and the desire to “fit” or be “normal” are seriously complicated by HIV disease.
Emotional Support And Psychological Intervention
Helping a child with HIV can be little tricky specially when he or she is in a growing stage. There’s always this question – why me? So how can you as parents help your child deal with his or her emotional state of mind? Here’s how.
- A child who is infected with HIV may suffer pain and trauma. He/she may need help in coping with various emotions, as well as with stigma and discrimination
- You should encourage the child to discuss the fears and issues that worry him/her with relatives, family, friends, other reliable and trust worthy adults around, and so on
- Encourage him/her to spend time with other people with whom he/she feels secure
- The child can also be helped to understand that enough rest and sleep, prayer, and simple exercises like jogging, dancing and any other which the child enjoys are helpful when dealing with trauma and emotions
- Encourage the child to participate in social activities as much as possible. See what all you can do to make sure that the child is able to pursue his/her hobbies and stay active and constructively occupied
- Reach out to community health care services and other allied professional groups both at the formal and informal level
What are your thoughts on the topic? How do you think can we help the child and the family? Share your views and feedback in the comments section below.
| Dec 01, 2017
Yes this question in the mind of a child suffering from AIDS is inevitable.. 'Why me'? he or she needs emotional and psychological support and the willpower to fight it out especially from family members .this would give them the much needed strength.. it's also important to make them meet other children who are also suffering from a terminal illness so as to learn they are not alone. very useful blog..
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