ADDRESSING SOCIOECONOMIC CHALLENGES OF YOUTH LIVING WITH HIV/AIDS IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES
Youths that are living with HIV/AIDS (YLWA) in developing economies are a vulnerable group living a nightmarish life owed to social discrimination in an environment of immense economic paucity: There is a need to especially assist them so as to make their extended lives meaningful. We wish to study this phenomenon and establish its enormity before we decide on the best intervention. We aim to give these youths hope and empower them to be creators of wealth and progress. This intervention will turn them from a burden to an asset in their communities, while garnering them economic and socio importance. We wish to prove that HIV is not a life sentence.
As far as youths and HIV is concerned, the world is focused upon reducing infections, increasing medical access; basically making more youths survive. No questions have been asked of these youths after they survive. It looks like the more youths survive HIV death the higher the numbers of poor and socially unhappy youths.
After years of taking regimens of antiretroviral medications, some of them started one their second birthday, these youths are grateful to be alive but it is at once a life of stigma and ostracization. The application of antiretroviral medication in a socioeconomically challenging environment has some ramifications. The youths that have for years braved HIV/AIDS in this environment are visibly scarred. Many of them have suffered secondary ailments that have physically affected them. Additionally, because of dietary paucity and nutritional deficiencies they generally appear emaciated and thin. It is therefore easy for a member of the general public to visibly identify YLWA; the signature appearance is well known. This identification at the core of stigma and ostracism.
Visibly identifiable YLWA have several challenges - for example: Employers are reluctant to employ them because they will most likely have many sick days off, and they may cause distraction and unease at work due to attraction of curiosity amongst fellow staff; it is next to impossible for YLWA to attract sexual partners because they are considered a grave ‘sexual risk’; members of their families and peers do not want ‘to hang with them’ because they elicit curiosity; at times they are sent out of living rooms and cast out of site when visitors show up.
In Uganda, where 83% of the youths are unemployed, poor and destitute, youths that are living with AIDS/HIV are facing ‘double jeopardy’: Not only are their chances and opportunities slimmer than those of the other youths, employability and poverty exacerbates their HIV/AIDS condition. While the youths in Uganda generally live a torrid life those living with HIV/AIDS particularly experience a treacherous life. There is a need to address the plight of YLWA in Uganda as well as in other developing economies.
At Community Concepts Inc we are working hard to address this problem. We have started by commissioning a study to evaluate the problem: we wish to identify, define and measure the extent of the problem and then proceed to craft scientifically guided solutions. This project falls within our major ambit as a youth in development nonprofit. We aim to give youths in less developing countries hope and turn them from being a liability into a strength to their communities.
Assistance to YLWA is our current signature project. We need all the help we can marshal; financial resources and manpower (volunteers). We may be a startup but there is no singular organization globally, apart from us, that is addressing this particular problem. Not only are we pioneers in this regard but wish to effectively solve the problem. We take this opportunity to invite all persons and organizations of good will to partner with us in ways convenient to them. We are confident that with your help this challenge will be vanquished.
African health professionals in the Diaspora in partnership with health professionals in Africa