An Assessment of the Experiences of Caregivers of Children with HIV and AIDS at a Children’s Opportunistic Infections Clinic: Zimbabwe

Mangoro E, Chitura M, Mayida A


The purpose of the study was to assess the experiences of caregivers of children with HIV and AIDS at a Children’s opportunistic infections clinic in Zimbabwe. The main objectives of the study were to determine the kind of relationships existing between the caregivers and the children, to establish the caregivers’ level of knowledge of HIV and AIDS, the treatment modalities involved, to assess the caregivers’ levels of adherence to ART, to establish the caregivers’ support systems and to find out the problems faced by caregivers during their care giving roles. A mixed method approach was employed. A sample of ten caregivers, comprising 4 biological mothers, 3 female relatives, 1 male relative, 1 foster parent and 1 child caregiver was drawn from a population of 423 caregivers of children with HIV and AIDS. who had defaulted treatment and/or missed review dates. The main findings of the study were that, most of the caregivers were the children’s biological mothers and female relatives, and they had known the children since birth. It was found that, prior to the initiation of ART, all the participants were trained to care for the children and were given guidelines on nutrition and drug therapy. Furthermore, all the participants showed knowledge of HIV and AIDS, its prevention and management. While participants mentioned that they received social support from family and friends, it was noted that the burden of care still fell hard on them as they were the ones who stayed with the children and had to be physically available to give care. The challenges faced by caregivers in adhering to ART were found to be financial constraints, living remotely from health care centers, transport problems, contradictory cultural beliefs and stigma. Recommendations included increasing staff compliment, step up sensitization campaigns through Health education programmes and disseminate research findings to stakeholders. Funds permitting, two year longitudinal studies be undertaken in Zimbabwe to ascertain ART adherence.

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