Drawings, stories to help counsel HIV-infected kids

Children infected with HIV/AIDS will now receive counselling from Sion Hospital to understand the nature of the disease they are suffering from.

mumbai Updated: Dec 01, 2010 01:01 IST
Sonal Shukla
Sonal Shukla
Hindustan Times

Children infected with HIV/AIDS will now receive counselling from Sion Hospital to understand the nature of the disease they are suffering from.

The children in the age group of four to 15 years will be counselled in a phased manner about their disease through drawing lessons and story telling, said Dr Mamta Manglani, chief of regional paediatric anti-retroviral therapy (ART) centre at LTMG Hospital, Sion.

“HIV-infected children start becoming curious about their condition at the young age of five. It is not possible to tell them about their disease right away at that age. However, making them aware indirectly without mentioning HIV, as per their maturity at that age, can help them comply with the medication and treatment properly,” said Dr Manglani.

According to her, lack of awareness among children suffering from HIV/AIDS often leads to children not realising the gravity of the disease and can make them careless in taking medication.

“In this kind of counselling, the counsellors for example will narrate a story to the child about a virus in his body. Likewise the child is motivated to display his understanding about the condition through a story or a painting,” said Dr Manglani.

This will help children in logically understanding the reasons as well as importance of taking medicines and their frequent visits to hospitals, said Dr Manglani. Regional Paediatric ART Center at LTMG Hospital in Sion is one of the seven paediatric ART centres in India.

The centre has observed an increase in the number of children approaching for treatment in the last few years.

“Roughly 200 new children enroll with the centre each year of which at least 50% are given ART treatment. All the treatment is given free of cost,” said Dr Yaswant Gabhale, associate professor, paediatrics, LTMG Hospital, Sion.

Till date, 1,523 children are enrolled in the centre of which 483 children are receiving ART therapy treatment at present.

Dr Manglani strongly felt the need for such a programme, when one day a 15-year-old HIV infected boy who was taking the treatment at the centre approached her and requested her to tell him about the disease that he was suffering from.

“He was not fully aware of his condition as his parents were not willing to tell him about it. When I counselled him I was shocked to know that he had accumulated half-baked information about the disease,” said Dr Manglani.

International medical literature suggests that inadequate knowledge as well as lack of it, about the disease can lead to depression, anxiety disorder and suicidal tendencies in children.

A panel of experts from Mumbai District AIDS Control Society, National Aids Control Organisation, Clinton Foundation and SNDT University has formulated the module for training the counselors, which includes the aspect on disclosing HIV status to such children.

First Published: Dec 01, 2010 01:00 IST