The impact of HIV/AIDS on household expenditure: a case study of Mathira Division, Nyeri district.
Kabiru, Joseph G
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The focus of this study was on the impact of HIV and AIDS on household expenditure in Mathira Division, Nyeri district. The study was conducted among households with people living with HIV and AIDS (PLWHAs) who are members of Tumutumu Hospital support group, a therapeutic group in Mathira Division of Nyeri District who are distributed in the Division's seven locations and have declared their positive status in public. The overall objective of the study was to investigate the impact of HIV and AIDS on household expenditure in Mathira Division, Nyeri district. The suitability of Mathira Division and specifically Tumutumu Hospital Group was based on limitation of financial resources and accessibility of the researcher's home area. The study was guided by two theories namely: Structural functionalism theory as espoused by Talcott Parsons and George Homans' Rational theory. The rationale for using these theories is explained by their relevance to the subject of study. The structural functionalism theory would explain that HIV and AIDS affect households that are the basic structures of society resulting to increased expenditure. Rational theory on the other hand serves to explain that the households need to come up with a rational decision which will be oriented towards coping with the increasing expenses in the household. The study utilized both qualitative and quantitative data that were both primary and secondary data. The primary data was collected using personal interview, key informant interviews, and focus group discussions data collection methods while secondary data was obtained through desk research and review of documents related to HIV and AIDS on household expenditure. Findings from the study reveal that (i) HIV and AIDS affects women more than men with the most affected age bracket being 26-45 years with HIV prevalence rate of 75.2%, (ii) households comprising of both husband and wife who are HIV positive participate and attend therapy groups in comparison to those who live as singles, however, there were no separated male respondents, (iii) HIV and AIDS has caused a lot of dependency in the study area with 13.6% of the dependents being children, (iv) there are different types of expenses that are introduced in the household when HIV and AIDS pandemic strikes which include: increased food and drugs costs, funeral costs and additional expenditure on non-essential items such as condoms, hygiene, and laboratory tests, (v) decisions of households affected by HIV and AIDS are made by the patient especially when the victim is still strong, and (vi) the households with persons living with HIV and AIDS are forced to look for alternative ways of dealing with the increased expenditure brought about by the epidemic. The alternative measures include among others: consumption of family savings, cutting household budgets, starting or expanding businesses, increasing farm production, or engaging in casual labor. Recommendations arising from this study are that: (i) the society at large should give both moral and financial support to households with persons living with HIV and AIDS cushion themselves from the effects of extreme economic vulnerabilities, (ii) all health institutions such as health centers and hospitals need to be adequately equipped to provide free medical-care for opportunistic infections whose treatment is very costly, and (iii) a policy needs to be put in place that would facilitate the setting up of a welfare scheme to cater for the provision of support services for HIV and AIDS infected persons. This fund should help HIV and AIDS patients to start income generating activities to boost their income.