Research That Matters (January 17 - 20, 2008)

Friday, January 18, 2008: 10:00 AM-11:45 AM
Blue Room (Omni Shoreham)
[H/D] Social Work and the Aids Pandemic: Global Responses to Issues of Orphans and Vulnerable Children
Symposium Organizer:Dorian Traube, PhD, University of Southern California
Discussant (Optional):Mary M. McKay, Mount Sinai
Evaluation of a Community-Based Response to the Needs of Orphaned and Vulnerable Children in Idweli, Tanzania
Dorian Traube, PhD, Victor Dukay, PhD, Harryl Hollingsworth, MA, Claude Mellins, PhD, Sylvia Kaaya, MD
Exploring Mentorship as a Supplemental Component to Interventions Targeting Orphans and Vulnerable Children (Ovc)
Stacey Alicea, MPH, Fred M. Ssewamala, PhD, Nabunnya Proscovia, BA
Adapting a Community Collaborative Youth HIV-Prevention Program in South Africa
Taiwanna Messam, MSW, Richard Hibbert, LCSW, Mary M. McKay, Carl Bell, MD
Process Evaluation of the Adaptation of an Evidence-Based HIV Intervention for a Vulnerable Population: HIV+ Youth and Their Families
Stacey Alicea, MPH, Elizabeth Brackis-Cott, PhD, Stephanie Marhefka, PhD, Ezer Kang, PhD, Claude Mellins, PhD, Mary M. McKay
Abstract Text:
UNICEF/UNAIDS (2003) defines orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) as children under 18 years of age who have lost one or both parents due to HIV/AIDS or whose survival, well-being, or development is threatened by HIV/AIDS. Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the most highly impacted regions of the world with more than 12 million children classified as OVC (UNAIDS, 2006). The loss of a parent to AIDS can have serious consequences for a child's access to basic necessities such as shelter, food, clothing, health and education. The distress and social isolation experienced by these children, both before and after the death of their parent(s), is strongly exacerbated by the shame, fear, and rejection that often surrounds people affected by HIV and AIDS. Because of this stigma, children may be denied access to schooling and health care, thus exacerbating both their physical and psychosocial well-being. In African countries that have already suffered long, severe epidemics, AIDS is generating orphans so quickly that family structures can no longer cope. Traditional safety nets are unraveling as increasing numbers of adults die from HIV-related illnesses.

The impact of HIV/AIDS on children and their families is not a simple problem with an easy solution. The situation is complex, interrelated, and cuts across all sectors of the eco-system. Research efforts to date have found that effective care and support for OVC depends upon appropriate policy and law, medical care, socioeconomic support, psychological support, education, human rights, and community-based programs (UNICEF, 2004). Programs that address these points in relation to OVC have become a top priority for organizations including the World Bank, the Untied Nations, and the U.S. government, as well as hundreds of non-governmental organizations.

The field of social work, with its attention to simultaneous targeting of multiple strengths and risk factors within the eco-system, is in prime position to greatly contribute to interventions for OVC. This symposium will begin a dialogue about the unique role social worker research can play in response to the AIDS pandemic and subsequent crisis for orphans and vulnerable children. This discussion will be facilitated through the presentation of research related to four innovative programs that address the psychosocial and physical needs of OVC in sub-Saharan Africa. The first paper reports on the evaluation of a community based alternative to care in Idweli, Tanzania that implements a hybrid approach of institutional placement and community-based support for OVC. The second paper examines the impact of a community-level intervention to disseminate evidence-based HIV prevention programs for vulnerable youth in rural South Africa. The third paper presents results from an evaluation of an assets ownership program in Uganda and suggests that mentorship programs can have an effect on education, savings, sexual health, and family life of OVC. The fourth and final paper will present the process of adapting and piloting an evidence-based HIV prevention program for use with HIV+ youth and families both in urban settings both domestically and in South Africa.

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See more of Research That Matters (January 17 - 20, 2008)