The accessibility to social assistance by persons living with HIV/AIDS in the Vulindlela area.
Mtembu, Maloney Lindiwe.
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The Social Assistance Act of No. 59 of 1992 was put into place to help in assisting poverty stricken people of South Africa by offering social grants to an aged, disabled person or a war veteran. Due to the devastating effect of HIV/AIDS, people living with HIV/AIDS were entitled to social assistance. However, grave problems exist for this group of persons to access social assistance such as the qualifying criteria for the disability grant being complicated by the medical nature of HIV/AIDS, taking anti-retroviral therapy and problems in the administration procedures. Compounding these, is that rural areas are underdeveloped and lack infrastructure to accommodate adequate service provision. This study aimed to increase understanding of access to social assistance by people living with HIV/AIDS in the rural area of Vulindlela in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The study researched this by hearing the voices of both the service providers (key informants) and people living with HIV/AIDS (patient respondents) by conducting a qualitative study based on a descriptive research design. Data was collected by means of semi-structured, in depth-interviews for both the service providers as well as patient respondents in this study. Findings revealed that the voices of people living with HIV/AIDS were not heard and further that they were not even aware of their rights and entitlements to social security. In fact, in many instances people died without having had any access to their grants whilst others had to wait months before receiving their grants. Findings emphasized the need for education, training and retraining for service providers, recipients and educational institutions as HIV/AIDS poses a major challenge in our society and as it is an ever changing phenomenon. Using an ecosystemic frame of reference, recommendations were multi-fold and included better networking and collaboration amongst the different bodies that are involved in grant administration and revisiting qualifying criteria. Other recommendations included strategies to deal with corruption, the development of pressure and lobbying groups and staff shortages. Given the time it takes to plan and implement changes and given the life threatening nature of HIV and AIDS, a key recommendation was for a newly introduced grant exclusively for the people living with the virus, to lessen the burden of meeting qualifying criteria and thus give dignity to and improve life quality.