Susan is a 12 year old orphan who is HIV positive. Both her parents succumbed to HIV infection and died within a few months of each other when she was 5 years old. As a result of her unmanaged condition, and the difficulties and stigma of caring for an HIV positive child, no one in her extended family wanted to care for her, and she was moved from one family to another. Furthermore, when she came to Island Hospice she had no birth certificate and was therefore unable to attend school and obtain an education.
Susan was finally settled with her maternal grandmother in Mufakose, a high density suburb in Harare. Though caring, the grandmother had no idea how to access medical care for Susan. Through the STARS-funded Paediatric Outreach Clinic, Susan was identified for care.
At her initial clinic presentation, Susan underwent assessment, was started on a course of antiretroviral (ART) and provided with medication to control her symptoms. Susan now attends regular clinics and her health has improved significantly. A support group for bereaved children run by the Hospice has enabled her to better cope with the loss of her parents and other family members, and both the Hospice and a new group of friends provide her with an active network of support.
Susan’s grandmother was given information about HIV/AIDS by Island Hospice and has attended a guardian support group in order that she can better cope with Susan’s needs and challenges. Her grandmother and other members of the family now feel comfortable taking care of her.
Finally, Island Hospice has helped Susan to obtain a birth certificate and locate a school where she has now been enrolled. The Hospice also found a donor to pay her school fees and provide her with the necessary uniform, books, and other equipment for her ongoing education. Susan, is still in primary school and about a year behind in her schooling, but is very happy that she is attending school because it makes her feel less “different”.
Susan’s ambition is to become a nurse as she feels the urge to be able to care for others.
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