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Diary of a Peer Support Youth: Reaching out to Heads and Hearts of Positive Children

Print version
07 November 2016
4 4 Photos

UNICEF in collaboration with the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Uzbekistan, organized training of trainers in the framework of psychosocial support for children and families with HIV. The training brought together HIV-positive adolescent (10 to 19 ages) active members and clients of Daycare Centres for children and families affected by HIV from 7 regions of Uzbekistan, as well as pediatricians who work with them. The main goal of the training is to prepare adolescents living with HIV as peer educators to support other HIV-positive children and their parents.
Having started their first training 4 years ago in November 2012, the teenagers shared their experience and knowledge they have learnt visiting the Daycare Centres in their respective regions, as well as their achievements and difficulties they faced.

The participants enthusiastically narrated the experiences of their active participation in different initiatives and events organized by the Daycare Centres; consultations and information sessions; events like on 1st December — the World Aids Day, the New Year and Navruz; numerous recreational, crafts and language lessons; communication with their peers; and various certificates and recognitions they received for their actions. What pleased them most was that when they were able to raise the spirit of other HIV-positive children while serving as peer-educators.

«I am also HIV-positive but I’m happy. The only difference between me and others is that I take pills," said Nadira, one of the leaders of the teenagers. «And when I talk to other parents, they are always amazed seeing a child living with HIV who can be so active and cheerful in life. This brings them great relief and it helps them in accepting their own child’s diagnosis.»
One of the main difficulties young people faced was working with parents who greatly worry for their children, and are reluctant to accept the diagnosis. However, the young coaches are not discouraged. With the acquired experience, they advise and consult parents, especially mothers, remembering how hard it was to their own parents when they first learnt about their daughters’ and sons’ illness.

«Working in this field, we are now not only medical doctors. We need to become a psychologist, a close friend» says Muattar Valijanova, Doctor Pediatrician of the Daycare Centre in Namangan. «This is not a disease that can be cured and forgotten. It is essential to ensure constant interaction with their parents, like a family member. Not to mention monitoring and coordination between other health workers — epidemiologists, dispensary, and therapists.»

Participants of the training stand on the threshold of new challenges and new responsibilities for their own and others' lives. The role of pediatricians and the peer educators is paramount in the life of the children living with HIV. They work hand in hand in order to ensure even greater HIV prevention.

There are 7 regions of the country where such training Centers do not exist yet. Organizers hope that in a short time those regions will also be covered with Daycare Centers, and there is still a lot that needs to be done to further creating benefits for our young citizens’ health.

By physical appearance, these young people do not appear sick. They look, speak and think like any other healthy child. To help them continue to grow and develop in the same manner, it is vital that they take (Antiretroviral therapy) ART in a proper and timely manner. As some of these bright young participants of the training say — Life is worth it.

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