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Families, children, migration and AIDS

Informa UK (Taylor & Francis)
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1080/09540120902923071
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Migration is very often a family affair, and often involves children, directly or indirectly. It may give rise to better quality of life for an entire family, or to bitter disappointment, and may also increase vulnerability to HIV and AIDS. This review, carried out for the Joint Learning Initiative on Children and AIDS, links the literature on “migration”, on “HIV and AIDS” and on “families”. Three themes are sketched: (1) As both HIV prevalence and circular migration increase, former migrant workers affected by AIDS may return to their families for care and support, especially at the end of life, often under crisis conditions. Families thus lose promising members, as well as sources of support. However, very little is known about the children of such migrants. (2) Following patterns of migration established for far different reasons, children may have to relocate to different places, sometimes over long distances, if their AIDS-affected parents can no longer care for them. They face the same adaptation challenges as other children who move, but complicated by loss of parent(s), AIDS stigma, and often poverty. (3) The issue of migrant families living with HIV has been studied to some extent, but mainly in developed countries with a long history of migration, and with little attention paid to the children in such families. Difficulties include involuntary separation from family members, isolation and lack of support, disclosure and planning for children's care should the parent(s) die and differences in treatment access within the same family. Numerous research and policy gaps are defined regarding the three themes, and a call is made for thinking about migration, families and AIDS to go beyond description to include resilience theory, and to go beyond prevention to include care.

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