When the costs of care for persons with AIDS are calculated, the assumption is made that the care provided by the family or other social support network members is a social and not also an economic contribution. This article challenges theflawed assumption of “free” care, focuses on the labor and economic dimensions offamily home care, and presents a calculation of the dollar value of this care for persons with AIDS (PWAs). The sample consisted of 53 persons, each of whom identified themselves as the primary caregiver for a PWA. Studyfindings revealed caregiver estimates of 5 hours a week of housework performed specificallyfor the PWA. Caregivers spent an average of 8.5 hours a day performing personal care tasks for the PWA. The three most common activities were providing companionship, running errands, and performing food/meal-related activities. Gendercomparisons revealedthat women performed more hours of housework than men but that both provided similar types of personal care for similar numbers of hours. Using a market valuation method, the value of a day's caregiving work was estimated to be $43.78. The annual value of unpaid care, including housework, for one PWA was calculated to be $25,857.88. These data documenta significant economic contribution byfamilies and friends caringfor PWAs. This subsidy must be included as part of the policy andplanning work essential to addressing the AIDS epidemic.
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