Child–mother attachments in the face of grandparent HIV

Mary J. Ward, Elizabeth A. Carlson, Patricia Lester, Leila Beckwith, Marian Sigman, Mary Jane Rotheram-Borus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Child–mother attachment, as observed in the Strange Situation (SSP), was assessed in 61 families affected by HIV and 18 neighborhood comparison families not affected by HIV, but of similar ethnicity and socioeconomic status. Children were aged one to three years at the assessment. Secure attachment was significantly less likely among children in the HIV-affected group than among comparison group children (36% versus 67%). The most common pattern of attachment in the HIV-affected group was disorganized/disoriented, observed in 41% of children (versus 22% of comparison children). Children from families that included a surviving grandparent with HIV showed disorganized attachments more often than children whose grandparents died (53% versus 36%). Child attachment classifications were not associated with families’ participation in a family-based, cognitive-behavioral HIV intervention. These results document the inter-generational impact of young mothers’ who were growing up with an HIV-infected parent. These findings suggest that families affected by HIV may benefit from interventions that address attachment issues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)461-472
Number of pages12
JournalAttachment and Human Development
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2 2016


  • Attachment
  • HIV
  • at-risk population
  • parent–child interactions


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