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Hidden impacts: “near old” women’s experiences of adult morbidity and mortality in the era of HIV/AIDS in rural South Africa

Catherine Ogunmefun, University of the Witwatersrand

This paper explores the coping strategies of “near old” women with regard to adult morbidity and mortality in their households in the HIV/AIDS era. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 30 women aged 50-59 in the MRC/Wits Unit study site in rural South Africa. Some of the findings show that “near old” women, like women over 60, have caregiving responsibilities but no coping strategies such as a pension grant, stokvel and burial society. Despite the fact that they are engaged in economic activities such as trading and farming, they are still overwhelmed with financial responsibilities of giving care to sick adult kin and orphans/foster children. Many thought a pension grant would have made a lot of difference when there was an adult illness and death in their households. Therefore they long for the day they will become pensioners and able to cope better with crises such as HIV/AIDS in their households.

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Presented in Session 77: Impact of HIV and AIDS on the wellbeing of older people