Supporting the educational needs of HIV-positive learners: a desk-based study

The purpose of this desk-based research was to review policy  with  respect  to  the  education  of  HIV-positive  children  and  to  examine  how  their  education  can  be  encouraged  and  supported  in  primary  and  secondary  school settings. This was done through an appraisal of the scientifi c literature that had a bearing on the special needs  of  the  children,  and  the  public  statements  of  national and international organizations dealing with the epidemic.

The study gave priority to educational issues but  did  not  ignore  the  fact  that  HIV-positive  learners  and children need adequate medical support, nutrition and  suitable  home  care  in  order  to  take  advantage  of  educational opportunities. There are several key points emerging from the desk-based research that emphasise the vital importance of education and the education sector in tackling the HIV and  AIDS  epidemic.

 There  is  growing  evidence  that  health promotion activities can reduce the incidence of new  infections,  although  the  overall  numbers  of  child  infections  remain  disturbingly  high  in  sub-Saharan  Africa.  At  a  time  when  the  numbers  of  children  in  residential  care  in  orphanages,  cluster  homes  and  shelters  are  increasing,  a  high  proportion  of  these  children are HIV-positive. The school, then, becomes an important adjunct to institutional care, guiding children through adolescence towards adulthood, and assisting them with emotional and learning problems. However, unless there is a reduction in the number of infections in highly endemic areas, all systems, including education, risk being overwhelmed


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