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Keywords:

  • adolescence;
  • African families;
  • AIDS;
  • children;
  • family relations;
  • social networks

In settings highly affected by HIV/AIDS, households headed by children may result from strained family relations, poverty, and stigma associated with the disease. Understanding local systems and dynamics of support is essential to planning comprehensive models of care. This study measured size and composition of the support and conflict networks of 27 children and youth heads of household in northern Namibia and documented their perceptions of adequacy. Results showed a strong presence of and satisfaction with kin and peers as supporters, which challenges the assumptions that these households have few functional ties to family and that adults are the sole providers of support. Assistance to children without parental supervision should build on existing local strategies and children's resources.