At national and local levels, new social science research, closely linked to the needs of policy makers and advocates, is urgently needed on the progress of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in specific circumstances: it is important to know who is affected, why and how; and to devise ways to lessen the vulnerability of particular groups. It is within this spirit that this study was co-ordinated by the HSRC on behalf of FAO.
HIV/AIDS and land tenure are extremely complex and sensitive issues. One cannot generalise from specific cases as unique local manifestations of the impact of the epidemic on households and communities in terms of access and rights to land. However, case studies are extremely important as they reveal the real issues facing individuals living in the face of HIV/AIDS. A major problem for counteracting the developmental impact of the epidemic is the lack of hard data on real changes (Loewenson and Whiteside, 2001: 5). The three studies of cases in Lesotho, Kenya and South Africa attempt to document some of these changes relating to the impact of HIV/AIDS on land issues.