Longing for belonging: Adolescents' experiences of living with HIV in different types of families in Swaziland
A. De Lannoy
18 January 2017
Number of pages
Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
This study illuminates adolescents’ everyday life experiences of living with HIV in different family contexts in the Manzini
region in Swaziland, and the tactics they used to navigate the social and health system environments in their management of
the HIV illness and disease. A significant proportion of the adolescents who participated in study had been orphaned by the
epidemic, resulting in some having to live in single-parent households, step families, skipped-generation households, in child-headed
households, in foster homes or on their own. The study reveal a disconnect between the idealised family referred to in global
and national HIV policy guidelines and biomedical practices at the health facility level on the one hand, and adolescents’
perceptions of the family on the other. The study shows how the desire for belonging, described as a sense of emotional and
psychological connection, and of being welcomed and accepted, was a central quest among adolescents regardless of the type
of family they lived in and with: adolescents shared how having the same diagnosis (HIV), being on the same treatment (ART),
experiencing similar challenges such as being stigmatised, created among them a strong sense of familyness, of safety and
being “one big family”.
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