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Keywords:

  • [HIV/AIDS;
  • South Africa;
  • recognition;
  • everyday]

The space of volunteering is often seen as a place for rebuilding a world for individuals for whom life has been destroyed by the discovery of AIDS infection. People living with AIDS get involved in HIV support groups, become volunteers, and take care for each other. Without denying the reality of these processes leading to a “positive life” this article questions narratives of the transformation of the self-implied in the “caring for other” logic and argues that other spheres of life, less discernable because inscribed in the ordinary and in the intimacy of domestic life are at least as important as the involvement in biomedical care. The limits of voluntary work is highlighted and contrasted with a presentation of how life, love and affection is reconfigured within everyday life, leading to a consideration of people's struggles to build spaces of recognition. The argument of this article is built on a three year ethnography (2001–04) carried out in Soweto and Alexandra townships (South Africa).