Original Paper

AIDS and Behavior

, Volume 15, Issue 7, pp 1490-1502

Using People to Cope with the Hunger: Social Networks and Food Transfers Amongst HIV/AIDS Afflicted Households in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

  • Sarah KaschulaAffiliated withDepartment of Environmental Science, Rhodes UniversityThe Interchurch Center Email author 

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Household afflicted by HIV/AIDS are particularly prone to food insecurity. This article explores the role of community networks in meeting household food deficits. One hundred households exhibiting a range (0–5) of HIV/AIDS proxies related to orphan fostering, prime adult chronic illness and mortality were visited at quarterly intervals for a year. At each assessment, donated food types consumed in the past 48 h were recorded, and household food security was monitored through an experiential measure. Factors determining access to donated foods were explored qualitatively by means of participant observation and semi-structured interviews. Poor households with prime adult chronic illness were prone to food insecurity, and used the most donated foods. However, not all households perceived to be afflicted with HIV/AIDS were able to access donated foods due to stigma and social exclusion. Concerted action must be taken by government, non-government and community agents if social food transfer networks are to be transformed into coordinated community action.


HIV/AIDS Food security Social networks Social capital Donated foods Coping strategies