Young caregiving and HIV in the UK: caring relationships and mobilities in African migrant families
Evans, R. (2011) Young caregiving and HIV in the UK: caring relationships and mobilities in African migrant families. Population, Space and Place, 17 (4). pp. 338-360. ISSN 1544-8444
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To link to this item DOI: 10.1002/psp.583
Recent research in Sub-Saharan Africa has revealed the importance of children’s caring roles in families affected by HIV and AIDS. However, few studies have explored young caregiving in the context of HIV in the UK, where recently arrived African migrant and refugee families are adversely affected by the global epidemic. This paper explores young people’s socio-spatial experiences of caring for a parent with HIV, based on qualitative research with 37 respondents in London and other urban areas in England. In-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with young people with caring responsibilities and mothers with HIV, who were predominantly African migrants, as well as with service providers. Drawing on their perspectives, the paper discusses the ways that young people and mothers negotiate the boundaries of young people’s care work within and beyond homespace, according to norms of age, gender, generational relations and cultural constructions of childhood. Despite close attachments within the family, the emotional effects of living with a highly stigmatised life-limiting illness, pressures associated with insecure immigration status, transnational migration and low income undermined African mothers’ and young people’s sense of security and belonging to homespace. These factors also restricted their mobility and social participation in school/college and neighbourhood spaces. While young people and mothers valued supportive safe spaces within the community, the stigma surrounding HIV significantly affected their ability to seek support. The article identifies security, privacy, independence and social mobility as key dimensions of African young people’s and mothers’ imagined futures of ‘home’ and ‘family’.