Term of Award

Fall 2007

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Social Sciences (M.A.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Department

Department of Sociology and Anthropology

Committee Chair

Nancy Malcolm

Committee Member 1

Elizabeth Brown

Committee Member 2

Pidi Zhang

Abstract

The Human Immunodeficiency Disease (HIV) and Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) have reached an epidemic proportion in many African American communities. There is a significant amount of stigma and denial associated with HIV/AIDS in these communities, leaving people with minimal knowledge about this disease. Caretakers such as grandparents, other relatives, and foster parents take on the role of surrogate parents to these children who have lost one or both of their parents to HIV/AIDS. When family members, especially women, die from this disease leaving their offspring behind these children often experience various emotional and behavioral problems. A few of the children in this study turned to drug use as coping mechanism. Not enough financial support was given to support the orphaned children, and most often the caregivers relied on religion to get them through the rough periods. The aim of this research was to describe the day-to-day experiences of these caretakers. Findings from this study revealed that when family members assume the responsibility of these children there are a host of significant problems with the children's development, health of the family, financial stability and external resources.

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