African Journal of AIDS Research

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Willingness to care for children orphaned by HIV/AIDS: a study of foster and adoptive parents

Loraine Townsend, Andy Dawes


There is substantial evidence to indicate that South Africa is facing the prospect of a large number of children, now and in the future, who will be orphaned as a result of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Following the incapacitation and/or death of their parents, many of these children will be cared for by the safety net provided by members of their extended families. However, there is evidence to suggest that this safety net is fast becoming overwhelmed and possibly reaching saturation point. The ideal would be for as many of these children as possible to experience some type of family life in which to grow and mature into responsible adults. The present study explores adoptive and foster parents' (n = 175) willingness to care for a child orphaned by HIV/AIDS. Although some differences were noted depending on the HIV status of the child and whether the respondent was an adoptive or foster parent, results indicate an overall willingness in these populations to care for children orphaned by HIV/AIDS. The evidence also suggests that HIV-negative female orphans who are younger than 6 years, and who are family members, or from the same cultural background as the potential caregivers and do not have surviving relatives or siblings, have the best chance of being taken into foster or adoptive care.

Keywords: alternative parental care, orphan profile, parental death, postal survey

African Journal of AIDS Research 2004, 3(1): 69–80

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