HIV as social and ecological experience

Brian King, Margaret S. Winchester

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The spread and varied impacts of the HIV/AIDS epidemic demonstrate the complex and reciprocal relationships between the socio-political and biophysical dimensions of human health. Yet even with increasing research and policy attention there remain critical gaps in the literature on how HIV-positive households manage health through their engagement with social and ecological systems. This is particularly urgent given improvements in the global response to the epidemic, whereby expanded access to antiretroviral therapy has extended the possibility for survival for years or decades. Because many HIV-positive families and communities in the Global South remain dependent upon a diverse set of resources to generate income and meet subsistence needs, the impacts of disease must be understood within a mix of social processes, including the maintenance of land and collection of natural resources. Similarly, biophysical systems disrupted by HIV/AIDS vary depending upon resource use and locally-specific dynamics that influence opportunities for agrarian production. This paper reports on the findings from a structured survey completed in three communities in northeast South Africa in 2013 that is integrated with focus group discussions and qualitative interviews conducted from 2012–2016. We concentrate upon the diverse ways that individuals and families experience HIV through livelihood systems that are reliant on economic and natural resources. Because the access and use of these resources are mediated by existing social, cultural, and institutional systems, as well as historical spatial economies, we analyze how this produces differential lived experiences for HIV-positive individuals and households in the age of expanded access to antiretroviral therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)64-71
Number of pages8
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
StatePublished - Jul 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


Dive into the research topics of 'HIV as social and ecological experience'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this