Ambiguous care: siblings and the economies of HIV-related care in Zambia.

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Merten S,

Merten S, (click to view)

Merten S,


AIDS care 2016 6 10() 1-10


While kinship used to be considered a backbone of the creation of mutual obligations for care in pre-industrial societies, economic and social change has altered how care is provided. Notwithstanding changing kinship obligations, relatives continue to provide much of the care for those in need. In this article, I consider the active production of relationships among siblings through individual biographies, to understand how mutual obligations are created and affect the care provided to HIV-positive persons. I draw on two phases of ethnographic research conducted in Zambia, in Southern Province and Lusaka, between 2002 and 2011. Findings revealed that siblings are normally considered an important source of support, but their willingness and capacity to provide support may be limited by resource constraints and biographical experiences. Helping or not is at the conjunction of kinship-based obligations and a sense of connectedness, deriving from the history of growing up together, often in the context of disrupted families. The experiences of siblings in their past reach beyond individual histories. Structural factors jeopardise the support between and within generations, and must be addressed while promoting social protection programmes.

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