16 year-old, Sandile (name has been changed to protect his identity) is just one of the hundreds of thousands of children in South Africa who have not only lost their parent/s to HIV/AIDS, but are now fighting for their own lives too. Admitted last month, Sandile is currently being cared for in our Respite Unit.
Born HIV positive, Sandile lost his mum when he was just six years-old. Two years later, he was diagnosed with HIV and initiated onto treatment. Sandile currently lives in Shongweni. Here, the situation at home is dire. The mud dwelling that he calls home is inadequate and both Sandile’s grandparents as well as his aunty who are his primary caregivers, are heavy drinkers. In the face of these trying circumstances, it is perhaps not surprising that last year, Sandile defaulted on his treatment and quickly became ill to the point that he had to drop out of school.
Sandile was referred to HACT’s Respite Unit by a nurse at his local clinic who was concerned about him and has been visiting him regularly. Now back on his ARVs and currently being treated for TB, our team are hopeful he will make a relatively quick recovery.
How to ensure Sandile stays safe, adheres to his treatment and gets back into school after he is discharged from our Respite Unit is therefore the bigger question and one that is more difficult to answer. “Sadly, Sandile’s story is one that we find is now being told by a whole generation of young people who were born with HIV,” explains HACT’s Nursing Services Manager, Julie Hornby. “With their parents no longer alive to look after them, the remaining family often see them as a burden and an extra mouth to feed. This is where the importance of our patient follow-up programme comes in, where our team will work closely with Sandile’s clinic and the local social workers to get him the help and support he needs after he is discharged from our care.”
If you would like to help us care for children and young people like Sandile in our Respite Unit, please consider joining our Hope Club where you can help make a difference with just R50 a month. Click here for more information.