International Mentored Scientist Award

Investigating into the social, health and economic vulnerabilities and resilience of children of women at high risk of HIV in Kampala

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Award amount - Direct


In Uganda, children below 18 years of age have been estimated to be 55% of the Uganda population. Many women who engage in high risk sexual behaviour (WHR) for money and commodities are mothers and they have to manage childcare and their maternal identity at the same time as sex work. One of their most significant challenges is supporting their children emotionally, financially and developmentally. Children of WHR are seldom talked about in discussions around key populations, yet they are as equally affected as their mothers. Whereas there are interventions targeting orphans and vulnerable children (OVCs), OVCs including those of female sex workers are still understudied and need to be given opportunity to voice their life experiences. Sex work is illegal in Uganda which increases the vulnerability of women and their children. Some research on the children of sex workers indicates that children may involve themselves in risky behaviour including risky sex, alcohol and substance use that may increase vulnerability for HIV and other STIs. The proposed study will focus on understanding the socioeconomic and health context that children of women at high risk sexual behaviour grow up in, with an aim of identifying areas for possible low cost, culturally relevant, feasible, acceptable and accessible interventions to break the cycle of sex for survival that can transfer from parent to child. Using both in-depth qualitative and a targeted quantitative phase will allow us to optimize the early identification of these children in their community, the development of interventions and the design of a future study would be based on a more thorough understanding of the context including locations, mobility, challenges of parenting and growing up as well as networks of young people and women at risk in Kampala.