Knodel, John E., Nathalie Williams, Sovan Kiry Kim, Sina Puch, and Chanpen Saengtienchai. 2009. "Community Reaction to Older-Age Parental AIDS Caregivers and Their Families: Evidence from Cambodia." PSC Research Report No. 09-673. February 2009.
Accounts of community reaction to persons with HIV/AIDS and their families typically focus only on negative reactions stemming from stigmatization with little acknowledgement of variation over time and across settings. To usefully guide local interventions, a broader view is needed that also encompasses attitudes and actions stemming from sympathy and friendship. We examine community reaction in Cambodia to families from the perspective of parents of adults who died of AIDS or currently receive antiretroviral therapy. Survey evidence and open-ended interviews reveal a mixture of reactions related to social relations, interactions with local officials, gossip, business patronage, funeral participation, and orphaned grandchildren. Positive support is often dominant and reactions typically improve substantially over time. Misplaced fears of contagion through casual contact underlie most negative reactions. Moral condemnation or blame is not evident as a source of negative reactions. Overall a sufficiently supportive atmosphere likely exists in many localities to facilitate community based efforts to mitigate the epidemic’s impact on affected families.