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Children still grow up separated from their families in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
Positive Approach for a Positive Life – Supporting Positive Adolescents for Better Health
"My dream is to become a pilot," says Muzaffar, a 15-year-old adolescent with sparkling eyes who arrived at the training ‘fundamentals of health and support’ from Bukhara region. In fact, these events, organized by the Ministry of Health, National AIDS Center and UNICEF, help HIV-positive adolescents talk about their dreams and give them hope for life.
The training in July is attended by 34 positive youngsters and their parents, as well as pediatricians. Participants represent Tashkent, Bukhara, Syrdarya, Samarkand regions as well as Tashkent City. Young people take an active part in the sessions to share the new knowledge and skills with their peers when they return home.
"The main goal of this event is to provide children and parents with important information about HIV and AIDS, and equip them with skills for living a full life with this diagnosis," says Kamila Fatikhova, UNICEF consultant on HIV/AIDS Programme. "This training will also help children in developing leadership skills through peer-to-peer education, so they will become trainers who help other HIV-positive children."
My positive life!
In the session for teenagers, at first, the children seem a bit uncertain. Then, an interactive exercise "My expectations from the training" spurs them for active participation and teamwork since the exercise is built on dreams of the children.
"I have been facilitating the peer-to-peer education based trainings for six years. At this event, we try to help children to come to terms with their diagnosis and expand their knowledge on HIV," says Doston Kholosboev, UNICEF trainer.
When children learn about their diagnosis, they often live in fear and "hide" from strangers. They can lose interest in life. This is because children do not have the right information. By taking part in these trainings, they understand that if they positively accept their diagnosis, follow all advices, take their medication on time - their life will not be different from that of other children. As a result, their faith in the future is strengthened.
It is also encouraging that five teenagers who act as trainers and assistants in this training have been participants of similar trainings in the past. It is important that children who participate in such events return to their regions and share their experience with their peers in the regional AIDS Centers and Children's Centers.
How can I help my HIV-positive child?
Since many people have limited knowledge about HIV/AIDS and parents cannot always answer the questions of their children, experienced pediatricians of the AIDS Center conduct sessions for parents on the theme ‘medical care for HIV-positive adolescents’. Specialists answer the questions that have been bothering parents, discuss problems together, and give practical advices on how to live with the HIV-positive diagnosis of their kids.
"Parents who come to the AIDS Center often come with questions like how long can my child live with this disease? This is the issue that worries them the most. We explain to them that if they adhere to antiretroviral therapy and take all medications, their condition will improve," says Hulkaroy Ashurova, a pediatrician of the Republican AIDS Center. "Such trainings contribute to raising parents' knowledge and providing them moral support."
Indeed, if you have the right information, you have the world in your hands. Sometimes, a teenager's lack of knowledge and skills to cope with stress can turn his/her life into a negative side. It is visible seeing the emotions of teenagers and their parents on the first day of the training. Participants who come to the training, tormented with questions like what will happen now… How will I live on… and how long does my child have to live… return to their homes with eyes full of hope, and the feeling that a mountain has been lifted from their shoulders.