The Experience of Being a Grandmother Who is the Primary Caregiver for Her HIV-Positive Grandchild

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Abstract

Background:

The number of grandparents assuming care for their grandchildren is increasing, and this affects grandparents both positively and negatively. The current study builds on an earlier study of the effects of social support, stress, and level of illness on caregiving of children with acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) that identified both positive and negative effects of caregiving.

Objectives:

To identify the lived experience of African American and Latino grandmothers as the primary caregivers for their grandchildren who are human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected or have AIDS and to identify the similarities and differences between the two groups.

Methods:

Using Van Manen's method for hermeneutical phenomenological research, the lived experiences of 10 African American and Latino grandmothers who were the primary caregivers for their HIV-positive grandchildren were investigated. Additionally, the similarities and differences between the two groups were studied.

Results:

Four themes identified were (a) upholding the primacy of the family, (b) living in the child-centered present, (c) being strong as mature women, and(d) living within a constricting environment. Twelve subthemes expanded and clarified the meaning of these themes.

Conclusions:

Although there were differences related to family structure and cultural backgrounds, the grandmothers were more alike than different.

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