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American Public Health Association
133rd Annual Meeting & Exposition
December 10-14, 2005
Philadelphia, PA
APHA 2005
3072.5: Monday, December 12, 2005 - Board 2

Abstract #114161

Children of Rwanda: Strategies for Care and Protection of HIV/AIDS Affected Child-Headed Households

Leslie M. Snider, MD, MPH1, Eleazar Mugarira2, Laetitia Nyirazinyoye3, Neil W. Boris, MD4, Tonya R. Thurman, MPH, PhD student5, Fidel Tugume2, and Lisanne Brown, MPH, PhD6. (1) International Health and Development, Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, 1440 Canal Street, Suite 2200, New Orleans, LA 70112, 504-988-3655, lsnider@tulane.edu, (2) World Vision Rwanda, B.P. 1419, Kigali, Rwanda, (3) Rwanda School of Public Health, University of Rwanda, Butare Campus, Butare, Rwanda, (4) Community Health Sciences, Tulane University School of Public Health & Tropical Medicine, 1440 Canal St., 23rd Floor, New Orleans, LA 70112, (5) Tulane School of Public Health & Tropical Medicine, 1440 Canal St, Office # 2253, New Orleans, LA 70112, (6) Department of International Health and Development, Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, 1440 Canal Street, Suite 2200, New Orleans, LA 70112

Background: Nearly 18% of Rwanda's children are orphans, and over 65,000 children are heads of households (CHH). These children face stigma, discrimination, isolation and marginalization, often by their own neighbors and families. Methods: As part of a collaborative project to provide psychosocial support to child-headed households in Gikongoro, Rwanda, focus groups were conducted with 30 children heading households (CHH). Youth described impacts on their psychological health and well-being, and recommendations into design of a mentorship program to ensure child safety. A survey with 753 CHH aged 15 and 25 assessed the psychosocial health of children. Results: Data reveal high levels of abuse and exploitation of children living without adult care, and stigmatization due to their poverty and orphan status. Youth described resulting loneliness, despair and hopelessness as they work to survive and care for younger family members: “One can be traumatized when you have problems, and no one cares or defends you.” These data were used to sensitize and mobilize the community regarding the needs of OVC and to develop the program Conclusions: The planned mentorship program utilized youth perspectives in program design, including selecting mentors from a pool of adults trusted and recommended by the children to ensure their safety. The project also incorporated strategies to engage community, local authorities and judicial systems in protection of CHH, and ensure a healthy environment for children to grow and reach their full potential.

Learning Objectives:

  • At the conclusion of the session, the participant (learner) in this session will be able to

    Keywords: Child/Adolescent Mental Health, Needs Assessment

    Presenting author's disclosure statement:

    I wish to disclose that I have NO financial interests or other relationship with the manufactures of commercial products, suppliers of commercial services or commercial supporters.

    HIV/AIDS: Contemporary Issues

    The 133rd Annual Meeting & Exposition (December 10-14, 2005) of APHA