Coping strategies of low-income households in relation to HIV/AIDS and food security.
The purpose of this study was to investigate coping strategies employed by low-income households of Sweetwaters KwaZulu-Natal, who have members who are infected with HIV in ensuring food security when dealing with HIV/AIDS. This study was based on households who have members living openly with HIV/AIDS and who were members of a support group of HIV positive people. This study was conducted between July 2003 and June 2004. Focus group meetings were conducted with a support group of 26 members (Philani Support Group). Questionnaires, group discussions and observations were used to collect data from households. In order for the study to investigate coping strategies, the following sub-problems were investigated to measure changes before and after illness or death in household: changes in finances, changes in food habits, social aspect of studied household which included infrastructure (housing, roads, water, sanitation and energy); external and internal support. There were no major differences in coping strategies, but the structure, resources and size of households informed their coping strategies. Food was the centre of all activities of households. As the ability of the household to produce food or earn income decreased, the need for food increased. Government social grants have been shown to be the main resource for coping (they enabled households to cope or survive). It is recommended that low-income households affected by HIV/AIDS and totally dependent on grants should be helped not to develop a dependency syndrome by implementing strategies that will encourage active participation and deal with passiveness that exists within low-income households of Sweetwaters affected by HIV/AIDS. As this study indicates that there are no resources on which concerned households depend, it suggests a greater need for capital to boost the household and strategies for households to be able to sustain themselves.
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