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HIV/AIDS Care Giving Takes Toll

In Botswana, community-based home care is the preferred method of assisting people living with HIV/AIDS. However, a study shows many of the caregivers are suffering economically and emotionally as a result.

Botswana has a small population, about two million, but a very big HIV prevalence rate. UNAIDS says about 24 percent of the adult population, aged 15 to 49, is infected with the AIDS virus.

A recent progress report on HIV/AIDS says Botswana is “one of the nine Southern African countries that continue to bear the global burden of HIV and AIDS, with each country having an adult prevalence of more than 10 percent.”

Who are the caregivers?

The government’s national AIDS control program has boosted testing, prevention and treatment efforts. But caregivers play a major role.

“The care givers include relatives. They include friends. They include also community members,” says Njoku Ama of the University of Botswana, one of the researchers who studied the effects of care giving.

“We need to know something about them. You need to know their experiences. You need to know the problems that they go through. You need to know the type of assistance that they receive,” he says.

The study indicates HIV/AIDS caregivers “experience poverty, are socially isolated, endure stigma and psychological stress and lack basic care-giving education.”

“There’s a lot of sacrifice. I mean having to receive someone. Take out their time. Take out their money. And then invest on someone is a lot of sacrifice,” says Ama.


The study says the mean monthly cost incurred by caregivers was about $90. But their mean monthly income was only about $66. And the cost is “more than six times the Government of Botswana’s financial support for caregivers.”

“Well, one of the major recommendations was that government should actually try to increase the allowances they are giving them,” he says.

But Ama says they also need social support.

“They should have really an opportunity of interacting among themselves and sharing the problems that they encounter in the delivery of care,” he says.

The Botswanan statistical expert says the study followed nearly 170 primary and volunteer caregivers. They participate in eight community home-based programs in four health districts in Botswana.

The results of the study are expected to be presented to the government in the near future.