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The Challenge (Children and AIDS) Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Olanrewaju.Ademola.Ojasanya, Nigeria Dec 22, 2001
Health   Opinions
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The Challenge

Children are the challenge we must try and encourage ourself to face.
Over 12 million children in Africa have lost one or both parents to the HIV epidemic. That number is expected to double within the next decade, based on UNAIDS estimates. The HIV/AIDS epidemic is producing orphans on a shocking scale unrivaled in the history of the world - and it's happening so quickly that family structures can no longer cope. Barely a single family remains untouched. Extended families and communities, the de facto social safety nets in Africa, are being seriously overstretched by the impacts of AIDS. Communities heavily affected by AIDS are being robbed of a generation of adults in their most productive years, leaving behind children to be raised by relatives, left on their own in households headed by children, or living in the streets.

Not only are children losing their parents, many of them are born HIV infected. Over half of HIV infected African adults are women, the vast majority of whom are of childbearing age. Of the estimated 400,000 HIV infected African children under 15 years of age, 90% were infected through vertical (parent to child) transmission.

A child's vulnerability increases long before a parent dies. In poor households, HIV-related illnesses lead directly to household economic problems as adults fall ill and cannot work, available resources are used for treatment, and other family members divert time to provide care. Children often take over adult work responsibilities and provide care for sick parents, thus forcing them to drop out of school and social activities. This increased isolation of the child leads to poor health as opportunities to involve the child in regular health activities are missed, and other adults are not readily available to support the child in their own growth and development. Denial of and stigma against HIV/AIDS is a huge barrier to attempts to support these vulnerable children, and further aggravates their social isolation.

Household food security is undermined as income and productive capacity fall. Agricultural households often shift from producing and consuming more nutritious types of food to less nutritious but more easily grown food crops. The resultant increase in malnutrition in both vulnerable children and adults leads to earlier deaths due to other infectious diseases, especially pneumonia, diarrheal disease, and tuberculosis. This helps account for a doubling to quintupling of under five mortality rates across all regions of Africa.

The death of a parent brings a number of additional problems. As adults in their most productive years die, elderly grandparents, with limited physical capacity or older children, with limited skills and experience, frequently head households. Funeral costs consume more scarce resources, and widows and children are left destitute if relatives claim the dead parents property to help reclaim the bride price. This can leave survivors without the means to support themselves, and may force children into the streets, exposing them to economic, physical, and sexual abuse, and increasing their risk for HIV infection. Children who lose their parents to HIV/AIDS are more vulnerable to HIV infection if they do not receive adequate care and support. Combined with stigma, this combination of circumstances increases the social isolation and vulnerability of children. Most children are dying of this Virus called HIV which results to AIDS

Children and HIV/AIDS Data
21.8 million people have died of AIDS since the beginning of the epidemic.
4.3 million children under 15 years have already died of AIDS-related illnesses.

36.1 million adults and children are now living with HIV/AIDS.
1.4 million children under 15 years are HIV+.

By 2010 there will be 44.2 million orphans (not just AIDS) in the world.
By 2010 we expect to see close to 40 million orphans in Africa alone.

In 1990, about 16% of the world's orphans lost one or both parents to AIDS.
In 2010, about 70% of the world's orphans will loose one or both parents to AIDS.

Children on The Brink 2000 updates the 1997 publication, Children on the Brink: Strategies to Support HIV/AIDS.
The 1997 version, the first comprehensive global estimates of orphans of HIV and other AIDS-related causes, helped raise world awareness of the impending calamity of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in developing countries.

This update focuses on new orphan estimates for 34 countries; a description of what children, families and communities are doing to address their growing orphan problems; strategies for intervention that have been adopted; and a new strategic agenda to guide coherent action by the world community.

There Should be Proper Hospitality for our children because they are our better Tomorrow.

In the aspect of the parents: The parents are the source of the infected virus called HIV which results later to AIDS. Assuming we talk about the parents, a parent with an infected virus when giving birth to a child, the child will now be infected with the so called Virus HIV which will result in AIDS.

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