AIDS and the Family

Policy Options for a Crisis in Family Capital

image of AIDS and the Family

HIV and AIDS take a profound toll on families. When a family member becomes sick or dies, everyone in the family suffers. In 2001, the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS recognized the important role played by the family in prevention, care and support. This publication addresses the issues and challenges of HIV/AIDS from a family perspective, using information and data from sub-Saharan Africa.



Knowledge and disclosure of HIV status

“Societies need to have one illness which becomes identified with evil, and attaches-blame to its ‘victims’, but it is hard to be obsessed with more than one.” Illness metaphors can be positive or negative, can change over time, can apply to a single organ or the whole body, can be formed without regard to the biological facts, and can affect the whole life of the person carrying the diagnosis. AIDS may be perceived as a plague, punishment from God or bad luck, depending on the social and cultural context. The fear, ignorance: and misconceptions surrounding HIV/AIDS can interfere with the sharing of vital information that may allow individuals, families, communities and countries to better understand and address the causes and effects of the disease and the wider epidemic.


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