Young AIDS migrants in southern Africa: policy implications for empowering children

L. Young, N. Ansell

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    32 Citations (Scopus)


    Many AIDS-affected children in southern Africa engage in migration when household members fall sick or die from AIDS, or because they are sent to assist relatives. Despite this, little attention has been paid to the consequences of these movements for children's lives. Multi-method research, conducted in Lesotho and Malawi, revealed that children sent to live with kin commonly move over long distances and between urban and rural areas. They are generally not consulted or informed about these migrations and face a range of associated difficulties, particularly with integrating into new families and communities. Severed family ties exacerbate the difficulties faced by children who end up in institutions or on the streets. This paper advocates that policy approaches for those affected by AIDS should be children-centred and take into account the implications of migration at three levels. First, many of the difficulties children face could be overcome if they were familiar with the place and people they were moving to. Second, children would be better able to cope with new situations if they were included in family discussions with decision-makers regarding their migration preferences. Third, maintaining ties with kin would ensure that children do not become distanced from their family and cultural heritage, which is essential for post-institutional support.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)337-345
    Number of pages9
    JournalAIDS Care
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2003


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