AIDS is a kinship disease: caring for AIDS orphans in Lesotho, Africa

Document Type


Publication Date



AIDS has devastated communities across southern Africa. In Lesotho, where a quarter of the population is infected, the wide reaching implications of AIDS have been felt in every family and disrupted every aspect of social life. While HIV can be contracted through casual sexual relationships, it spreads primarily through family and sexual lines and through other interpersonal relationships in painfully intimate ways. In this talk, I considered the wide-reaching impact of HIV on families with a focus on the care of orphaned children. Through the stories and experiences of people living with and caring for AIDS orphans, I highlighted the structural inequalities that have led to the soaring HIV-prevalence rates; discussed how culture impacts people's responses to the disease; and reflected on my most recent fieldwork, where I investigated how the increasingly common death of HIV-free grandmothers is impacting the orphans in their care. I talked about why AIDS is a "kinship disease" in how it impacts families and communities as much as it impacts the body. Finally, I presented some ideas about what kinds of approaches might work to improve the situation of AIDS orphans in southern Africa and beyond.


The slides for this presentation are not available.