The black , white and grey of rainbow children coping with HIV / AIDS .

  • Ebersohn L
  • Eloff I
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This article explores the complexity of the inquiry process concerning South African children coping with the effects of HIV/ AIDS. The aim is to start a debate on this issue and to review coping literature relating to children and HIV/AIDS. The article makes use of the metaphor of a tapestry, in order to convey the intricacies, complexities and multiplicity of facets of this process. The article commences with a rationale for the exploration, and assumes that understanding these children's coping methods might facilitate early identification and support of their psycho-social stress, as well as increase their resilience. The article subsequently explores what coping is by integrating the different theoretical standpoints and the assumptions of the authors. It illustrates how our current theoretical constructions of the coping process fall short in understanding the unique coping process in South African children who are dealing with HIV/AIDS. This is done by sustaining the tapestry metaphor, posing rhetorical questions and also by referring to some observations made in the initial phase of this research process. However, the article also illuminates the contributions that generic coping theories can make in the construction of a theoretical framework for understanding coping in this context, namely the transactional coping process, individual experiences of stress, the coping repertoire of children, and the fact that children under threat revert to primary emotional coping strategies. They also depend on adult support to assist them in coping. Protective factors that might buffer the effects of trauma are explored. The article next relates the complexities of HIV/AIDS to the coping of traumatized South African children. It concludes with the notion of not being a 'comfort' text (because there are more questions than answers), but it underscores the need for persistence in the inquiry process. (author's)

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  • Liesel Ebersohn

  • Irma Eloff

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