An exploration of the coping mechanisms adopted by adolescents living with HIV and AIDS in Chinhoyi: a case of adolescents receiving treatment at Chinhoyi Provincial hospital, Mashonaland West Province in Zimbabwe
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In a country with a high prevalence rate of HIV, the number of adolescents living with HIV and AIDS is steadily increasing in Zimbabwe. The National AIDS Council (2011) reports that there are more than one hundred and fifty thousand children living with HIV and AIDS who are below the age of fifteen years. This emerging group of the population has been receiving limited attention in previous years. The study sought to explore coping mechanisms adopted by adolescents living with HIV and AIDS in Chinhoyi. The study recruited HIV positive adolescents who are receiving antiretroviral treatment was conducted at Chinhoyi Provincial Hospital, located in Mashonaland West Province. Data collection included semi-structured in-depth interviews, key informant interviews, and a questionnaire (Adapted adolescent version of KIDCOPE). A sample of 38 adolescents living with HIV and AIDS aged between ten and nineteen years of years were selected through simple random sampling from a possible one hundred and eighty six who receive antiretroviral therapy at the Provincial Hospital’s Opportunistic Clinic. The results of the study indicate that adolescents living with HIV and AIDS still face a multitude of challenges in dealing with the demands that affect people living with HIV and AIDS. Stigma and discrimination were reported to be the major issues of concern. The majority of the adolescents have lost at least one parent. The majority have indicated that their families sometimes lack financial resources to meet additional medical needs that are not provided for free by public health institutions, and purchasing a nutritional food as well as paying school fees. Other challenges commonly experienced include fear of being attacked by opportunistic infections, anxiety due to possibility of shorter life expectancy, inability to handle disclosure issues in relationships with the opposite sex, as well as issues relating to marriage and having healthy babies. The study revealed that adolescents living with HIV and AIDS in Chinhoyi mainly use passive methods of coping, whilst active coping mechanisms are also utilized. Additional unique, situation specific coping mechanisms were also reported. It also came out from the study that there are various support mechanisms available to adolescents living with HIV and AIDS in Chinhoyi provided from state and non state actors. However, resources constraints, both human and final, have limited the effectiveness of these support mechanisms in addressing complex challenges that confront adolescents living with HIV and AIDS in Chinhoyi. It was interesting to note that these adolescents are developing skills and attitudes which assist them to cope with HIV and AIDS related demands in their social environments. The study concludes that although most adolescents are striving to successfully cope, a lot still needs to support them because the community environment is not yet fully appreciative of their needs. Improvement in the delivery of service and increased tolerance by the community has the potential to enhance the quality of life for adolescents living with HIV and AIDS. The study informs interventions that promote healthy coping and better quality of service for adolescents that are struggling with complexities of living with HIV and AIDS.
SubjectHIV and AIDS