Date of Conferral
Public Policy and Administration
The purpose of this investigation was to generate a context- specific model of the lived experience of HIV positive Tanzanian orphans. With the advent of anti-retroviral drugs, Sub-Saharan African populations with high burdens of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) face annually accumulating increases in the number of HIV positive children, and ultimately adults. Perinatally infected, these children often become orphans while still young. Extended interviews were performed with a purposive sample of 12 HIV infected orphaned children between 9 and 12 years of age. Half of the research participants lived in an orphanage and half were children living with guardians in villages near Arusha, Tanzania. A phenomenological approach to data analysis was employed with the guidance of literature-based constructs of intrinsic traits and developed tools used by children to meet challenging life circumstances. Data demonstrated that disclosure of HIV and orphan status engendered widespread social consequence. The phenomenon also negatively affected the children's physical, material, and emotional quality of life. Even in the face of these challenges, participants demonstrated resilient and self-reliant coping mechanisms. Responses ranging from caretaker education to stigma reduction in the schools will help to meet the needs of these children. In addition, the information generated by this research will be a basis for beginning to examine the social change responses that will be necessary for Tanzanians in the healthcare, social service, and policymaking arenas to successfully integrate this new population group into all levels of society.