Impact of Human Immune Deficiency Virus /Acquired Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome
(Hiv/Aids) on the Family and Community The Impact of HIV/AIDS on Marriage/Unions and Childbearing
The socio-economic impact of HIV/AIDS is beginning to have an effect on the value system of
the family, as traditional norms and customs are breaking down under the pressures of the
Socio-Economic Impact of HIV/AIDS on Orphans
AIDS has resulted in a massive number of orphans unparalleled in human history. The impact of
the HIV/AIDS epidemic on these orphans depends on a number of factors, including:
The socio-economic status of their families.
The size of the family.
Losing parents to AIDS means that children have to assume new roles and new responsibilities
within the nuclear as well as the extended family. Traditional roles, duties and responsibilities of
family members become blurred, as AIDS places additional demands and pressures on orphans,
particularly economic uncertainty, stigmatization and emotional insecurity. The following trends
have been observed:
Children whose parents die of AIDS in towns are usually taken back to the rural areas.
They have to adapt to loss of parent(s) as well as to rural life.
The security and stability of their family life is disrupted and there is no social safety net
or mechanism to help children through this transition period.
Some drop out of school because they cannot afford school fees and uniforms or because
of stigma. This increases the risk behaviour among the older orphans especially girls.
Absenteeism and failure is equally high because some orphans have to attend to household
If both parents have died, the orphans are dispersed to various relatives. The disintegration
of the family often means the children may not grow up in a family and will not receive
attention and guidance from relatives.
Grandparents might find it difficult to discipline and control young adults.
Some orphans run away from home or from the extended family home to escape poverty
that AIDS-afflicted and affected families are subjected to.
Some children might be sent to a town or abroad to make up for the loss of income and
help support younger siblings.
Children become decision makers responsible for the social and economic future of the
Socio-Economic Impact of HIV/AIDS on Widows
Women whose husbands die of AIDS are usually younger and thus tend to have dependants who
need to be looked after. In addition, most widows in sub-Saharan Africa:
Risk having their properties, including land, confiscated as they do not have the right to
inherit land, and sometimes they even lose the right to use land, unless the husband has left
May be inherited by the late husband’s brother or close male relative.
Have sole responsibility for the children.