Understanding diversity in impact and responses among HIV/AIDS-affected households: the case of Msinga, South Africa

  • Kees Swaans Athena Institute for Research on Innovation and Communication in Health and Life Sciences, Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences, VU University Amsterdam, De Boelelaan 1085, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • Jacqueline Broerse Athena Institute for Research on Innovation and Communication in Health and Life Sciences, Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences, VU University Amsterdam, De Boelelaan 1085, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • Irma Van Diepen Athena Institute for Research on Innovation and Communication in Health and Life Sciences, Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences, VU University Amsterdam, De Boelelaan 1085, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Medical Anthropology and Sociology Unit, Univers
  • Monique Salomon Farmer Support Group, University of KwaZulu-Natal, 1 Golf Road, Scottsville 3209, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
  • Diana Gibson Medical Anthropology and Sociology Unit, University of Amsterdam, Oudezijds Achterburgwal 185, 1012 DK Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • Joske Bunders Athena Institute for Research on Innovation and Communication in Health and Life Sciences, Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences, VU University Amsterdam, De Boelelaan 1085, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Abstract

To gain a more comprehensive understanding of the impact of HIV and AIDS on rural households in Msinga, South Africa, the sustainable livelihoods framework was adapted. An ethnographic perspective was employed to examine: 1) the impact of HIV/AIDS-related illnesses on people's mind and spirit (the internal environment), and 2) the influence of institutional structures and processes (the external environment), in order to better understand 3) the actions taken by individuals and households in response to HIV and AIDS. Members of three support groups at a local drop-in centre were consulted about the impact of HIV and AIDS on their lives through focus groups, a questionnaire and in-depth interviews. The study shows that the psychosocial impact and associated coping strategies, as well as prevailing gender-based power relations and exclusion from social-exchange networks — which are not (readily) available factors in the sustainable livelihoods framework — affect people's lives in different ways and depend on the specific situation of the individual or household concerned. The study confirms the need to restore a household's resource base and to address psychosocial issues. However, the variation in impact to different households requires a diversified and holistic programme of development interventions.

Keywords: accessibility; coping; mitigation strategies; psychosocial aspects; resource-poor settings; sustainable livelihoods framework

African Journal of AIDS Research 2008, 7(2): 167–178
Published
2008-08-18
Section
Articles

Journal Identifiers


eISSN: 1608-5906
print ISSN: 1727-9445