Year: 2008
Working paper number: 235
Author: Bray, Rachel
Unit: SSU

Drawing on qualitative panel data collected in a poor township on the edge of Cape Town, this paper provides a fine-grained analysis of the residential decision-making of five HIV positive women and some of their children. HIV status and illness are found to add to the pressures exerted by income and asset poverty in ways that further incline women to seek residential security for themselves and their children. The presence of HIV intensifies the mental health implications of pre-existing socio-economic burdens and efforts to respond to these. Much of the resultant mobility cannot therefore be considered AIDS specific. At the same time, being HIV positive and unwell (or anticipating illhealth) prompts women to organise particular domestic arrangements for themselves and their children. Previously non-resident children are moved from distant relatives to join the urban household, incurring financial and social strain on the domestic group and on infected women in particular. Infected mothers want to live with all their children so that they can nurture them, have opportunity to disclose and familiarise their children with the everyday implications of being positive and on treatment, and to ensure they have the skills to survive on their own should they themselves die. Such moves can be made without raising suspicion of HIV within the family because there is a wellestablished pattern of moving teenagers from the Eastern Cape to schools in Masiphumelele for reasons of improving education.

Other factors that act alongside, and often in relation to, women's HIV status in shaping their residential decision-making include the nature and structure of related rural and urban households, point in the domestic developm

Publication file: WP235.pdf