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Counselling and Peer-to-Peer Support Adds Joy to the Lives of Children with HIV

Print version
07 June 2016
3 3 Photos

More than 100 children gather in the Tashkent City AIDS Centre to celebrate International Children’s Day. Boys and girls are happy to play with clowns and get gifts. «Our task is to ensure that the child stays positive, and does not lose hope because of his/her illness," says Nozima Afzalova, a leader of volunteers who plays the role of a clown. «As soon as children see a red nose and our colorful costumes they laugh and play. Like others, they have a right to play and enjoy their life. We encourage them to help each other and study together. We want them to believe that they can live a long and happy life, despite their illness.»

A group of young volunteers like Nozima work with the team of experts to provide psychological support to children living with HIV and their parents at the Day Care Centre at the Institute of Virology established with UNICEF assistance. It is a place where specialists provide counselling to the families on medical treatment as well as proper nutrition and life style.

UNICEF implements programmes to support children and adolescents living with HIV and AIDS, in particular by imparting trainings on the «peer-to-peer» approach. Umida Obidova is one of participants in these activities. «I work as a nurse at the Tashkent City AIDS Centre helping our pediatrician. I meet many children and their parents who come for counselling. All of them come with hope and we support them. Therefore, I work as a volunteer at the Day Care Centre at the Institute of Virology," she says.

According to Kamila Fatikhova, UNICEF Consultant, the main goal of UNICEF activities is not only to provide information about HIV and AIDS to children and their parents, develop their responsibility towards their health, and create conditions for them to adapt to their diagnosis, but also to provide them with the psychological support through peer to peer approach.

Governmental organizations alone are not responsible for children’s well-being. UNICEF works with communities, families and youth to empower them to apply positive practices, in particular in the area of health, nutrition, child care. Dilobar Akramova, physician epidemiologist of the Tashkent City AIDS Centre underlines the importance of everyone’s participation. «We do not limit our work with treatment of 120 children living with HIV. This diagnosis is a great stress for their families and they need to cope with this. Therefore, we educate doctors and patronage nurses of 60 policlinics of the capital, makhalla leaders, and teachers to support the families. Recently we have started to work with preschool teachers too.»

The doctors, nurses, volunteers and counsellors work together to help families cope with the stress. The Day Care Centre is abuzz with activities to support these families in ensuring that children living with HIV can lead a life of joy and happiness, and above all, with dignity.

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UNICEF is the driving force that helps build a world where the rights of every child are realized. We have the global authority to influence decision-makers, and the variety of partners at grassroots level to turn the most innovative ideas into reality. That makes us unique among world organizations, and unique among those working with the young.

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