Special Needs of In-school HIV-positive Young People in Uganda
Council researchers are aiming to better understand the needs of HIV-positive pupils in Uganda and identify possible responses by the education sector.
Since 2006, the Population Council has pioneered operations research in collaboration with local partners in Uganda to promote the sexual and reproductive health (SRH) rights of young people aged 10–19 years who are infected with HIV.
The objectives of this study were to (1) explore the special needs of HIV-positive young people in primary and secondary school in Uganda; and (2) identify possible responses by the education sector to these needs. The initiative sought to improve the sexual well-being of HIV-positive young people by integrating a broad perspective of reproductive health and sexuality information and services into existing HIV/AIDS treatment, care, and support programs. Key findings show that many young people perinatally infected with HIV desire to be in school to avoid social isolation, and indeed about 70 percent of them attend school. However, absenteeism among children who began antiretroviral therapy (ART) at an early age is negatively impacting educational performance. There has been limited understanding of how the education sector should support this vulnerable group of learners.
The Council’s exploratory study in Uganda included a diagnostic study followed by the development of an intervention to meet young people’s needs within existing programs for HIV treatment, care, and support. The study involved a survey of 718 young people aged 12–19 years perinatally infected with HIV; in-depth interviews with 52 school officials; and 938 student essays on identified HIV/AIDS themes.
Consistent with a previous Council study that examined the sexual and reproductive health needs of adolescents perinatally infected with HIV in Uganda in 2008, the findings from this study show that these adolescents aspire to better lives in the future just like their counterparts who are HIV-negative. They recognize the importance of schooling in achieving that better life, and the majority report this as a motivation for continuing their education. However, in-school HIV-positive youth have a number of special needs that are not adequately addressed by the education sector, including lack of adequate material support for schooling; lack of proper mechanisms for health care in schools; lack of training in HIV care and support for caregivers; non-disclosure of HIV status in school; lack of support groups/clubs or services in school; and discrimination, stigma, and physical abuse in schools. These study results have a number of possible programmatic implications, including school-based programs to assist orphans and other vulnerable children; strengthened school-based health care programs; caregivers at school trained in HIV care and support; groups or clubs for HIV-positive youth in schools; and measures to discourage stigma and discrimination.
HIV infection and schooling experiences of adolescents in Uganda (PDF)
Birungi,Harriet; Obare,Francis; Katahoire,Anne; Kibenge,Aggrey David; Letamo,Gobopamang
from Social and Psychological Aspects of HIV/AIDS and their Ramifications, pp. 73-88
Publication date: 2011
Special needs of in-school HIV positive young people in Uganda
Obare,Francis; Birungi,Harriet; Katahoire,Anne; Nkayivu,Hannington; Kibenge,Aggrey David
Publication date: 2009
Duration: 6/2008 - 5/2009
Population Council researchers:
The AIDS Support Organization (TASO)
The Ford Foundation