Parenting stress of caregivers of young children who are HIV Positive

  • J Potterton
  • A Stewart
  • P Cooper
Keywords: Psychology, Pediatric, Care givers, Stress, Human Immunodeficiency Virus


Objective: Paediatric HIV remains a major challenge in Sub-Saharan Africa. Paediatric HIV is a multi-generational disorder with far-reaching implications for the whole family. Parenting stress in caregivers of HIV infected children has been studied in developed countries but never in South Africa. The aim of this study was to determine the extent of parenting stress in caregivers of children infected with HIV in South Africa. Further objectives were to monitor the levels of stress over one year after caregivers started attending a paediatric HIV clinic and to ascertain what factors were predictive of a decrease in parenting stress over that time. Method: One hundred and twenty two caregiver and children dyads were recruited into this study. Caregivers completed the Parenting Stress Index/ Short form at baseline and after six and 12 months. Demographic information was collected and the children's heights, weights and CD4 counts were recorded at each visit. Results: The families that participated in this study came from very poor socio-economic backgrounds. Eighty five percent of the children were still being cared for by their biological mothers. The parenting stress levels of the caregivers in this study were extremely high at baseline. Although the parenting stress levels did come down significantly over the study period (p< 0.001) they remained high and warrant further investigation and management. A better level of education, better housing facilities and fewer adults living in the household were the three most important factors predicting a decrease in parenting stress over a one year period. Conclusion: Parenting stress of caregivers of young children infected with HIV is extremely high and warrants further investigation and long term management.

African Journal of Psychiatry Vol. 10 (4) 2007: pp. 210-214

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eISSN: 1994-8220