Suffer, Little Children: AIDS Forum Spotlights Smallest Victims
August 15, 2006
A report released Monday in Toronto at the 16th International AIDS Conference warns of a bleak future confronting Africa's AIDS orphans, whose ranks could top 15 million by the end of the decade.
The report, "Africa's Orphaned and Vulnerable Generations: Children Affected by AIDS," called on governments to act to ensure that orphans have access to education and can inherit their parents' assets. It also urged support for the caregivers and extended families who take in the orphans. Children who have lost their parents to AIDS or who are caring for an HIV-positive parent are often burdened by poverty, stigma, sexual abuse and lack of education, the report said.
"In the most affected countries in [sub-Saharan Africa], children are missing out on what they need for survival, growth and development, and progress on key national development goals is being jeopardized," said the report by UNAIDS, UNICEF and President Bush's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.
By the end of 2005, 12 million African children had lost one or both parents to AIDS. Even factoring in increased access to AIDS drugs, that number is predicted to hit 15.7 million by the end of 2010.
Kent Hill, assistant administrator for the Bureau of Global Health at the U.S. Agency for International Development, said one of the best ways to address the crisis is to provide antiretroviral drugs to extend the lives of parents. "The best way to help orphans is not just to find a way to put more money into programs that help them," he said. "The best thing is to make sure that they're not orphaned in the first place."
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.