Question

My mother is HIV-positive and got really sick last year because she wasn’t taking her medication. She stays with my 15-year-old brother who was born HIV-positive. I’m doing an internship away from home and I’m the only breadwinner. I’m trying to find a job closer to home to make things easier but nothing has come up yet. The problem is that after my mom got sick my brother started acting up – he doesn’t want to take his treatment anymore, he’s doing badly at school, he lies and steals, and comes homes very late. This stresses my mom, which affects her health. There’s no one who can help my mom. I’m thinking of leaving work to go home to be there full-time, but I think that will make matters worse as we’ll have no money. Where can I get help?

Answer

It’s good that you’re looking out for your family and their wellbeing but giving up the only thing that puts bread on the table is not a good idea. If you move back home it might solve some of the challenges your family has, but it will cause other – and in some ways bigger – problems. The best thing you can do for your family is to continue with your internship so you can keep earning money and also try to find some assistance for them. I suggest you go to your nearest department of social development. The social worker working in your area can assist you by referring your family to a non-governmental organisation that’s working with vulnerable families and HIV/ Aids-related programmes in your neighbourhood. They should be able to provide the psychosocial support both your brother and mother need through counselling, and they can allocate a community caregiver who’ll make frequent visits to your home to make sure all is well.