Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)


Social Work


Jane Aronson




This thesis sought to explore the particular experiences of HIV positive mothers living in Toronto, who are refugees and immigrants from Sub-Saharan Africa. The research was based upon a secondary analysis of a data set produced by The Hospital for Sick Children and The Teresa Group for a project in Toronto entitled, Perspectives on Parenting from HIV+ Parents from Sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean. This secondary analysis was framed by questions about women's responses to their worry, guilt and loss; it drew on theoretical perspectives that highlight women's work and coping as forms of resistance to adverse social conditions.

The interview transcripts of thirteen members of the original sample of twenty-two formed the basis of the analysis: all thirteen were women originally from countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. A material-discursive approach was employed to explore the women's accounts of their active responses to the challenges they faced.

The findings revealed the odds and difficulties that the women experienced in their daily lives, and the practical and narrative ways in which they managed them. Embedded in their accounts were various forms of work, undertaken to cope with and improve their own situations and the situations of those they cared for. Particular attention was given to the women's understandings of ways in which their self-directed coping could be either sustained or undermined. Their insights have implications for service provision and future research and, more broadly, suggest that attention is needed to the material and institutional structuring of their lives in Canada.

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