Young children affected by HIV and AIDS have critical psychosocial needs that are best addressed when support is embedded into their everyday lives (through responsive parental care, routines, playtime, school, community activities, etc.). Psychosocial care, support and rehabilitation are all best provided by families and communities because they are a constant in children’s lives. While most services and programs are time-limited, strengthening families offers a more sustainable approach to assuring that children receive the support they need in the longterm.
This approach works best when:
- The definition of “family” is expansive and inclusive, describing more types of interconnected and supportive relationships than those with a solely biological basis
- Considers the context of family life (e.g. income, education, nutrition, and other influences) in addition to specific health conditions
- Nurturing and caring within families promotes wellness among all family members
Within the context of HIV and AIDS, family and community safety nets have historically supported the majority of vulnerable children without additional financial and other resources. But this system of protection is under extraordinary strain. The stresses and destitution associated with the AIDS epidemic are negatively affecting family networks and communities.
In order for families and communities to be supportive, they need access to essential services, support and assistance, social protection, economic participation and empowerment, and enabling policies and institutions.
For more details on family and community-centered support, read Where the Heart Is.