Poverty and the Impact of AIDS on Older Persons: Evidence from Cambodia and Thailand
The present study provides a comparative analysis of the impact of the AIDS epidemic in Cambodia and Thailand on the parents of adults who die of AIDS and how this impact interacts with poverty. It examines the relationship between economic status and routes through which losing an adult child can affect the parents, including caregiving during illness, payment of medical and living expenses, reduced economic activity, funeral expenses, loss of support from the deceased adult child, the fostering of orphaned grandchildren, and community reaction. Finally, an assessment is made of the impact on the overall economic situation of the parents. Generally, negative consequences appear more widespread in Cambodia, but economic status shows a stronger association with outcomes in Thailand. Thus the gap between poor Thais and Cambodians is often modest despite substantial differences in overall levels. The higher levels of hardship reported in Cambodia and the often minimal difference by economic status likely reflect the more severe levels of poverty in that country compared to Thailand. While differences in data collection methodologies may account for some of the contrasting findings, the results strongly suggest that setting matters and that the role of poverty in the AIDS epidemic is far from uniform.
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