"My mother has aids": Stories of adolescents living in Khayelitsha, South Africa

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Petunia Tsweleng
Nicolette Roman


Background: HIV/AIDS is associated with death and for children death becomes a potential reality when they live in a household where a parent has HIV/AIDS. The aim of this paper is to (a) explore the perceptions of and experiences of adolescents living in households where the mother had HIV/AIDS, and (b) to describe the coping mechanisms used by adolescents in these households.

Methods: A narrative approach was used to explore participants' story telling. Detailed interviews were conducted with 6 purposively selected isiXhosa-speaking adolescents between the ages of 12 and 15 in Khayelitsha. Narrative analysis was used to analyse the data.

Results: The stories reveal experiences of being told about the news of the mothers' illness, how they eventually coped, how they accepted the situation and the experiences of other people knowing that their mothers had HIV/AIDS. Overall, the stories reflect that the participants were coping with the mother being HIV/AIDS-positive and maintained hope for their future.

Conclusions: Stories reflected the emotionally challenging situations adolescents face. In order for adolescents to cope within these challenging situations the environment needs to be supportive. This environment includes parents, family and friends. Government should implement relevant programmes and support structures, which could also focus on combating stigma and discrimination.

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How to Cite
Tsweleng, P., & Roman, N. (2020). "My mother has aids": Stories of adolescents living in Khayelitsha, South Africa. Journal of Community and Health Sciences, 8(1). Retrieved from https://epubs.ac.za/index.php/jchs/article/view/557