Social Support Disparities for Caregivers of AIDS-Orphaned Children in South Africa

Authors: Caroline Kuo, Jane Fitzgerald, Don Oerario, & Marisa Casale

Abstract: Drawing upon a sample of 1,599 adults caring for children in HIV-endemic Umlazi Township in South Africa, this cross-sectional survey investigated whether perceived social support varied among caregivers of AIDS-orphaned children (n=359) as compared to caregivers of children orphaned by other causes (n=171) and caregivers of non-orphaned children (n=1,069). Results of multivariate linear regressions indicate that caregivers of AIDS-orphaned children reported significantly lower levels of social support compared to caregivers of other-orphaned children and non-orphaned children independent of socio-demographic covariates. Caregivers of other-orphaned and non-orphaned children reported similar levels of social support. In terms of sources of support, all caregivers were more likely to draw support from family and significant others rather than friends. These findings indicate a need to develop interventions that can increase levels of social support for caregivers of AIDS-orphaned children, particularly networks that include friends and significant others.

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