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HIV/AIDS Orphans in Southern Africa Do Not Pose Security Threat, Report Says

January 5, 2005

HIV/AIDS orphans in Southern Africa might not pose the security threat suggested by some analysts, according to a new publication by the Institute for Security Studies, South Africa's Business Day reports. Robyn Pharoah, a senior researcher for the AIDS and security project at ISS and the editor of the report -- titled "A Generation at Risk? HIV/AIDS, Vulnerable Children and Security in Southern Africa" -- said the idea of HIV/AIDS orphans being cast "onto the fringes of society [and] threatening security" is inaccurate. The theory is based on a "naive interpretation" of orphans that assumes the HIV/AIDS pandemic will result in vulnerable, damaged children who cannot become healthy or productive adults, according to the report, Business Day reports. "While orphaning is on the increase and will have risen exponentially in most countries by 2010, relatively few children (are currently) living in situations of extreme vulnerability," the report says, adding, "Although increasing numbers of orphans are beginning to place stress on traditional coping mechanisms such as the extended family, they are still remarkably intact, and surprisingly small numbers of children have so far found themselves without support." The report says that although some HIV/AIDS orphans may face "precarious circumstances," many are linked to support networks and benefit from other adult relationships, according to Business Day. In South Africa, about five million people are HIV-positive, and about one million maternal HIV/AIDS orphans under age 18 live in the country, according to the Actuarial Society of South Africa (Kahn, Business Day, 1/3).

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