Disability grant for people living with HIV/AIDS in the Eastern Cape of South Africa

Soc Work Health Care. 2009;48(5):533-50. doi: 10.1080/00981380802595156.


A cross-sectional explorative descriptive qualitative/quantitative study was conducted in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. The qualitative component involved 38 HIV/AIDS stakeholders who were interviewed telephonically using a semi-structured interview schedule. The quantitative component comprised 607 People Living With HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) who were interviewed using a structured questionnaire. The majority of PLWHA were female, never married, unemployed, aged between 26 to 45 years, Black African, and had more than grade 7 education. All stakeholders supported the disability grant (DG) because it improved the lifestyle of PLWHA. The CD4 count was cited as the main criterion for putting PLWHA on the DG. The conditions and characteristics of the DG were not clearly explained to PLWHA. The DG application process was viewed to be too long. Access to service points was perceived as a challenge for some PLWHA. The DG was used to meet basic household and health care needs. Not being on a DG was associated with lower CD4 counts, often without enough food, and less often without needed medicines in the past 12 months. Having the DG stopped was associated with often not having enough medicines that were needed in the past 12 months. We conclude that the DG is a lifeline for most HIV/AIDS-affected families. We recommend that DG should not use CD4 cell counts as criterion for DG eligibility; the conditions and characteristics of the DG should be fully explained to recipients; the DG application process should be completed within one day; PLWHA who no longer qualify for the DG yet do not have adequate financial means to meet basic necessities should be put on a nutritional support program; and access to the location of the grants by the poor and vulnerable should be improved.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / economics
  • Administrative Personnel
  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / economics*
  • Humans
  • Insurance, Disability
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Public Assistance*
  • South Africa