Coping strategies of families living with individuals suffering from HIV/AIDS : a case study of Kasama urban and peri-urban
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OBJECTIVE: to determine the problems and the coping strategies of families living with individuals suffering from HIV/AIDS.DESIGN: Cross sectional study and Focus Group Discussion (FGD).SETTING Kasama urban and peri-urban in the Northern Province of Zambia.SUBJECTS: The subjects consisted of 106 caregivers randomly selected from families living with individuals suffering from HIV/AIDS who were under home based care programme. Of these caregivers 56 were drawn from the urban area and the rest from peri-urban.The FGD was composed of 10 participants who were neighbours to the families living with HIV/AIDS patients.MAIN OUTCOME: Availability of resources that enable families cope with the care of HIV/AIDS patients, knowledge about the disease, and skill of care for HIV/AIDS patient.RESULTS: One hundred and six home-based caregivers were enrolled for study. The majority of them experienced lack of knowledge and skill for care (85.8%), lack of medicines (97.2%), food (98.1%) and money for school (98.1%) which hindered them to cope with the care of individuals suffering from HIV/AIDS.Most (55.7%) caregivers believed that living with HIV/AIDS patients posed risk of contracting the HIV infection. Lack of knowledge about the disease and lack of protective materials were the major reasons mentioned for great risk of infection transmission.While some (35.8%) families did nothing at all/depended on God for protection against contracting HIV infection from the patients they lived with, others (19.8%) employed patient isolation (not sharing a room with the patient).Other ways of coping with the problems of HIV/AIDS patient care identified, among others, included begging from relatives (50.9%) change of residence by patients. Selling of family assets (38.7%) and depending on charitable organizations (14.2%). The charitable' organizations, included the Catholic Church, Kasama Centre for"Children in Crisis, and the Northern Province Health Education Unit.The study also revealed that under coverage (37.7%) by the community support system constituted a major problem in the provision of support to the families living with HIV/AIDS patients.The common support, rendered to the 66 families who received assistance, included counselling (57.6%) and materials (53.0%). The focus group members revealed that the community was more sympathetic with families living with individuals suffering from HIV/AIDS than they used to be in the past. This was attributed to the fact that the disease was not only common in the community but most people appreciated its burden on the family. While the focus group believed that HIV/AIDS was a less disease of shame on the family the HIV/AIDS patients, especially in the late stage of the disease, tended to be selective as to who visited them. CONCLUSION: Lack of resources such as food, medicines, money, materials and knowledge about the disease and skill of care made it difficult for families living with HIV/AIDS patients to cope with their care.
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