Children caring for their ill parents with HIV/AIDS

Laurie J. Bauman, Geoff Foster, Ellen Johnson Silver, Rebecca Berman, Ivy Gamble, Lorraine Muchaneta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

97 Scopus citations


Children orphaned by HIV/AIDS experience not only the trauma of a parent's death, but the stress of living with and often caring for an ill and dying parent. We interviewed 50 mothers ill from HIV/AIDS in both Mutare, Zimbabwe and New York, USA, and one child of each aged 8–16 about personal assistive care the child provided; other household responsibilities; hours/day children spent on chores; and parental/child mental health. Children provided substantial amounts of personal care; took responsibility for cooking, cleaning, shopping and other household tasks; and some were their parents' confidants. The amount of care provided was related to maternal disability, not child age, gender, or presence of other adults/siblings. Children reported performing more tasks than their mothers reported. Almost half of New York and 80% of Mutare children said they had too much responsibility, and most reported reduced after-school and peer activities. Both children and parents felt children were more capable because of their responsibilities. Depression rates in New York and Mutare children were high but Mutare children were extremely vulnerable; two-thirds had depression scores in the clinically significant range. However, child caregiving was unrelated to depression. Research to better understand the role of child caregivers is still needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)56-70
Number of pages15
JournalVulnerable Children and Youth Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2006


  • Child caregivers
  • Mental health
  • Parentification
  • US
  • Zimbabwe

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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