Malawi is one of the countries that has been the worst affected by the global HIV pandemic, with 84,000 children under the age of 14 living with HIV.
While HIV medication is available, many children in Malawi remain unaware of their HIV status. Because these children are at increased risk of a range of poor health and developmental outcomes, and they pose a risk to others through the inadvertent spread of HIV, it is vital that they be told in an age-appropriate manner between 6 and 12 years.
We recently discovered that more than 95% of parents, healthcare workers, teachers, and community leaders lacked the confidence to effectively talk to children about HIV and they believe that story books will help explain what the illness means for them.
“It is a good idea to have the children’s books because my child is in grade five and she can read, so if the books are developed, she will be able to read and understand what is happening in her body”. Enala, the mother of a 10 year old child.
“These books will provide important information that will help to improve our confidence on how to inform a child about his or her HIV status.” Grace, a nurse.
“A child does not forget what he has seen in pictures, so these books will be a useful tool to these children”. Mr Gafe, a grade three teacher.
“If a health program is not uniform in a country it becomes difficult to achieve good results. The books will help to bring uniformity in the way disclosure is conducted in our hospitals”. Jailosi, a counsellor.
Curtin University, in partnership with the University of Malawi, aims to develop and distribute a series of age appropriate and culturally acceptable story books that provide important information (in form of pictures, storytelling, and songs in the local language) about HIV and its management.
Your support will enable children living with HIV to receive a book for their 6th, 8th, 10th and 12th birthdays. These powerful story books will guide parents, healthcare workers, teachers and community leaders in the disclosure process to ensure positive mental, social and physical health outcomes for children living with HIV in Malawi.