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Chapter 13 “Children and Young People Affected by AIDS” By: Diane Duggan.

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1 Chapter 13 “Children and Young People Affected by AIDS” By: Diane Duggan

2 AIDS and HIV AIDS= acquired immune deficiency syndrome It is a public health threat that infects 40,000 people each year AIDS is caused by HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) AIDS is filled with uncertainty

3 AIDS and HIV People initially have no unusual symptoms – when symptoms start they include profound weakness, severe diarrhea, and visible skin lesions For those who do not receive proper medical treatment, the virus gradually destroys their immune system AIDS first emerged among gay males, followed by injecting drug users negative feelings associated with this disease

4 Treatment In the early years HIV took an average of 8 years to progress to AIDS In 2002 38 % of all HIV infections progressed to AIDS within 12 months Antiretroviral combination drug therapies prolong and improve the quality of life for people affected with HIV/AIDS Therapies slow down the mortality from AIDS Treatments do not kill the virus and there is still no cure

5 Statistics At the end of 2003 1-1.2 million people in the US over the age of 13 were living with HIV/AIDS (24-27 percent of this were unaware of their infection) Studies indicate that the problem of HIV/AIDS- affected children is much larger than recognized In 1998, The New York Times reported that mothers of 30,000 uninfected minor children had died from AIDS just in NYC alone 60 % of women living with HIV have children opposed to just 18 % of men

6 Statistics African American and Latina women account for 79 % of women living with AIDS in the US In 2001 AIDS was the fifth leading cause of death for women ages 25 to 44 In the early years more women (71 %) acquired AIDS through injecting drug use than through heterosexual contact…in 2003 this statistic was reversed with 79 % acquiring it through heterosexual contact

7 Problems faced by HIV/AIDS-affected children A parent with a chronic disease causes great distress for their children An ill parent requires increased emotional support, time, and money so the availability to supervise their children is limited (the household mostly revolves around the parent’s health) There is an increasingly high amount of stress placed within these families Children affected by AIDS see themselves as damaged, inferior, and different

8 Children feel shame and dread returning to school because they do not wish to be questioned by peers Majority of parents with AIDS do not tell their children about their diagnosis for the fear that it would cause them to become depressed or act out Parents telling their children about their illness can have many ramifications and there are legitimate reasons they may choose not to reveal the nature of their illness – Do you think this is right? What would you do?

9 Custody Both children and parents need to address issues of custody ahead of time – Usually extended family members or older adults willing to take them in; sometimes children become orphans Teenagers tend to act out more in terms of unprotected sex and more sexual partners if they knew their mother had AIDS and no custody plans had been made for them When plans are made these children have better outcomes in terms of fewer sex partners and less unsafe sexual behaviors

10 Bereavement When children lose a parent to AIDS it is important they are helped to mourn their loss Process a grieving child goes through 1.Denial 2.Physical discomfort from the separation of a loved one 3.Lack of interest in future ~ Thoughts of suicide…because they think of death as a way to reunite with the loved one 4.Resolution : able to accept the loved one’s death

11 Behavior Problems Include depression, learning problems, and risk- taking behaviors Studies found children’s behavior problems were related to the psychological distress experienced by the mother Expressions of anger may make them feel a sense of power that counteracts their feelings of helplessness Youth often act out in very self-destructive ways that result in truancy, arrest, staying out all night, etc. – Because of parents’ impending death, they express reluctance to jeopardize their relationship with their children by disciplining them

12 Academic Problems The stage of the mother’s infection and the child’s attendance appear to play a role in the children’s grades Children show many problems with memory, learning, interpersonal relations, and impulse control However, youth who have already lost a mother to AIDS want to do well in school because it’s important to their late mother they graduate

13 Childbearing A study on three teens reported that all three became parents within a year after their parents’ death to AIDS They said having babies seemed to fill the holes in their lives by their loss They more then likely engaged in these behaviors because of stress within the family… stigma of the disease, secrecy around it, poverty, and fear for the future These teens need support and education in parenting; someone they can rely and depend on US

14 I knew. I just wanted her to tell me. She couldn’t say it. And the more she couldn’t say it, the more I couldn’t take it. I just waited and waited. The more I waited, the angrier I got. -- Maria Young people who are affected by AIDS through their parents’ illness/death face conflict, anger, dislocation, difficulty with disclosure, and loss. --Imagine their everyday lives, how can we help? My mother is living with AIDS. I worry about her, but she doesn’t know. She thinks I don’t love her. She gets stressed out and blames things on me. I think she’s taking her anger out on me. I can’t take it anymore. -- Annette

15 Schools provide stability Caring School staff needs to be educated to recognize the behaviors these students exhibit Schools need to develop services to meet the specific needs of these children Maintain a caring relationship: listen with compassion – Students can greatly benefit from the attention of sensitive teachers – Reach out, engage them, and provide support and referrals (offer interventions to help these kids cope with their parents’ illness/death)

16 Tribute to loved ones Formal services can help mourners find meaning and cope with the pain of the death of a loved one Art can also help them display their feelings A group of AIDS-affected teenagers in the South Bronx created an AIDS quilt – This provided a forum for the affected youth to tell their stories in a personal, but anonymous way – Gives support for one another

17 The truth about HIV/AIDS KGR7078

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