Journal Article

‘We are no longer called club members but caregivers’: Involving youth in HIV and AIDS caregiving in rural Zambia

This study assessed the strategy of building young people’s capacity to provide care and support to people living with HIV and AIDS in rural Zambia. Members of youth anti-AIDS clubs in schools and communities were trained as adjunct caregivers using a locally developed curriculum that allowed them to explore and challenge gendered notions of caregiving and emphasized networking with existing resources. Results show that caregiving increased among males (47% to 82%) and females (41% to 78%). Both sexes provided similar caregiving services, including help with household chores and personal care tasks. Youth also undertook activities with children to decrease their isolation, help them stay in school, and reach additional services. While clients and caregivers reported positive aspects of the programme, both reported frustration with the youths’ inability to meet material needs. This study demonstrates that trained youth already involved in anti-AIDS efforts can meet a range of care needs and be valuable assets to their community. It also highlights the importance of communicating clearly what youth can and cannot do, ongoing monitoring and support of youth caregivers, and involving community leaders to give youth credibility and access to local resources.