Growing up in the context of high HIV prevalence: adult death and illness, family living arrangements, and children's lives

Erin M. Parker, Brown University
Susan E. Short, Brown University
Rachel E. Goldberg, Brown University
Thandie Hlabana, Brown University

The HIV/AIDS epidemic in Southern Africa is one the most pressing problems facing the world today. HIV/AIDS-related illness and death are reorganizing families and households throughout the region. The well-being of children is of particular concern due to the scale of parental death. Using the Lesotho Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) and over 100 in-depth interviews with caregivers and children, we depict the lives of children in Lesotho, a country in which 40% of children lose at least one parent by age 16. We use DHS data to describe children’s experiences of adult death and illness and to put death and illness in the broader context of children’s family living arrangements. We then use interviews with caregivers to elaborate on the circumstances surrounding parent presence and absence. Finally, we analyze interviews carried out with children themselves to learn what children say about HIV/AIDS, and to situate the epidemic in their lives.

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Presented in Session 78: HIV and AIDS and families