Children infected and affected by HIV are increasing day by day and the number is expected to double in the next three years.
These children suffer from emotional trauma, stigma and discrimination, and sibling separation. HIV affects their health and education. They lose parental love, care, affection, and support and are dependent on others such as grannies, relatives, friends, communities and foster families. They are often placed in hostels and care homes. They are in a vulnerable situation with girls being more vulnerable than boys.
We encourage children to test for HIV for early diagnosis. However, children do not get quality counseling in the HIV testing centers as well as ART centers. Moreover, there is lack of sensitivity for children during the counselling.
I have interacted with many children who have got themselves tested for HIV. They told me that “counseling is not good” because similar counseling is given to adults as well as children. As a result, children are not keen to go for testing in the ICTCs.
Children have different needs than adults and couselling can also give them a direction in their life. Therefore, we must have child friendly counseling in HIV testing centers and ART centers. Counsellors are also need training on Child friendly counselling.