Northern Cape – The Northern Cape Department of Health has, along with the Department of Social Development, undertaken to conduct basic HIV training for guardians and parents of children living with HIV, after it has emerged that many are battling to know when and how to disclose the information to children.
This comes after a 17-year-old told of her torment at discovering she was born HIV positive only after reading the diagnosis in her medical file, and after a 10-year-old boy died of AIDS, having secretly stopped taking his ARV treatment after he was told what it was.
The teenage girl told how she had fallen sick when she was 13 and had been hospitalised. She did not know what was wrong with her, and so out of curiosity, she read her medical file, hoping to find out what was wrong.
“When I looked at my file I saw that I had been tested three times at Gateway Clinic in Tshwaragano Hospital in my village Batlharos. I had apparently been born with HIV,” the teenager said.
She was immediately overcome with negative thoughts and was unable to accept that she was HIV positive. On three occasions she attempted suicide by taking an overdose of medication.
“The discovery reminded me of the death of my mother. She died when I was only seven years old – the same time that I started treatment,” the girl said.
“I was counselled by Sister Florence at the clinic, and she taught me a lot about HIV and AIDS. That counselling gave me a second chance, and I promised I would never disappoint her. I made a vow to her that I would never try suicide again.
“I realised that suicide would not help me in any way. It will only take my life and dreams away. And so I recovered and my life changed. I told myself a new story. I told myself that even if my friends and others say bad things about me, I will never give up on life.”
The teenager then made friends with another girl who introduced her to the Future Leaders group where she found support and acceptance.
“The lessons I get from this group about HIV and AIDS, and how to live positively with HIV are very much important in my life. Honestly, I don’t regret joining this group,” she said, adding that she dreams of finishing school and gaining her own independence – focused on her goals rather than what others say.
She is being raised by her aunt and wants other parents and guardians to be sensitive to the HIV positive children they are raising. This came out at the recent funeral of a 10-year-old boy who died after his family told him about his status.
In the Northern Cape’s John Taolo Gaetsewe District there’s a number of children who are born with HIV and don’t know their status because their parents and guardians are still battling to know when it is the right time to share the news. Some children cope with the news, others battle as they want to know how, when and why they became infected.
No right formula
According to the family of the boy who died, he was taking his ARV pills but not swallowing them. They found some under his bed or outside. Nthabiseng Andreas of the Social Development Department’s HIV who spoke at the boy’s funeral, it is important for adults to tell children the truth as early as possible.
She added that there was no right formula for caring for an HIV positive child, other than ensuring that they receive treatment and adhere to it.
The teenage girl wrote a poem for herself, which she used as personal motivation. It was so apt and touching that it was read out at the funeral of the 10-year-old boy who died after stopping his ARV’s. – Health-e News.