Children affected by HIV and AIDS need both medical and social, economic and psychological support to avoid, survive and overcome HIV and its impacts. A medical response alone is not enough. Children need a combination of support to address their physical, mental, social and emotional needs and to realise their full potential. Only then can children combat AIDS and HIV effectively.
For example, for a child to avoid HIV infection they need positive attitudes and behaviours around HIV, gender and sexuality, which are reinforced by their peers and community; a family with the knowledge and resources to provide for and nurture them; combined with access to quality medical HIV prevention services. Similarly, while quality, locally-available HIV testing and treatment services are vital, for them to be effective an HIV-infected child must also have a knowledgeable parent/carer to help them access and adhere to treatment correctly, provide a loving and stimulating environment for them to grow up in, have funds to attend clinic visits, conduct tests and to eat a healthy diet, and receive support from family, friends, and the local community to cope with the challenges around HIV infection.
Achieving this ‘whole child’ approach will require the HIV sector collaborating with those working on education, poverty reduction, social protection, child protection and other development and humanitarian issues to ensure each child affected by AIDS has the right combination of support to enable them to thrive as well as realise their full potential.
- Where the Heart Is, a seminal Coalition paper, provides details on the impact of psychosocial support services on children affected by HIV and AIDS.
- Coalition members contributed to the Joint Learning Initiative on Children and HIV/AIDS’ report, Home Truths, which makes the case for an integrated approach to the fight, including a social protection agenda.
- New research shows how social protection can play a life- saving role in responding to the challenges that HIV brings to children and adolescents.