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AIDS Care. 2006 Apr;18(3):236-40.

Psychosocial impacts on caregivers of people living with AIDS.

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Women's Health Research Unit, School of Public Health and Family Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Anzio Road, Observatory 7925, South Africa.


Estimates show that by 2010 up to six million South Africans will be HIV-infected. Simultaneously, public health care resources are overstretched and communities and families are taking more responsibility for providing care. However, little work in South Africa has investigated the possible psychosocial impacts on caregivers. This study investigates psychosocial impacts at household level with reference to gender, programme, and policy implications. Forty-five in-depth interviews were held with primary caregivers of people living with AIDS (PWA). Participants were recruited using purposive and snowball sampling. Forty-three respondents were women, signifying that gender is an important issue in this context. Data were analysed using a grounded theory approach. Care giving placed considerable demands on caregivers, which was exacerbated by insufficient support, dire poverty and the added responsibilities of caring for other household members. Lack of basic resources was common and chronic, and care giving impacted negatively on employment and social life. Stigma and prejudice towards caregivers was common and exacerbated stress levels. Assessment of support received from various sources ranged widely. The lack of support was often debilitating. Respondents who felt supported linked this support to improved psychosocial status. Recommendations for policy on home-based care are outlined.

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