What’s love got to do with it? Building and maintaining HIV-affected families through love, care and activism in Edinburgh 1981–2016


  • Dr Hannah Elizabeth

    London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, United Kingdom

Project summary

Writing in 1988, the mother of HIV+ Thomas explained a little of what it was to be an HIV-affected parent. ‘It is like living with a tiny time bomb, but we take each day at a time and just enjoy him.’ But what did enjoyment and taking each day at a time mean for families affected by HIV and those that worked with them? 

This research explores how HIV-affected people built and maintained families in Edinburgh, influencing national and international policy and practice through daily acts of love, care, and activism between 1981–2016. It uses ‘family’ broadly, to mean communities of friends, lovers and relatives. It asks to what extent were meanings of ‘family’ and ‘activism’ changed by HIV-related care work and the changing landscape of health and social care, and what extent did reproductive politics and childcare change as HIV+ individuals had, or sought to have, children.