The HIV/AIDS pandemic is orphaning children in unprecedented numbers. Already more
than 14 million children under the age of 15 have lost either one or both parents to
AIDS. It has made many millions more highly vulnerable.
Worse is yet to come with the number of orphans of AIDS projected to reach a
staggering 25 million by 2010.
Yet short-term, politically motivated solutions mean they have been starved of
Vulnerable children impacted by HIV/AIDS and those groups who work with them have
been ignored in the rush to devote resources to prevention and treatment, Ken Casey
of World Vision's HIV/AIDS Hope Initiative said.
"The plight of African children doesn't fit within the political messaging of many
of the activist groups who are the loudest when HIV is on the agenda. Drug companies
can't make money from orphans and donor governments are bowing to pressure from
these powerful constituents and focusing their resources on prevention and
treatment," Mr Casey said.
"It's right to invest in prevention, treatment and care for the sick. Often the
lives saved or prolonged are those of parents - thereby delaying or preventing
orphaning. It's possible that, by effectively using enough resources, Africa can be
saved from the primary assault of HIV."
"Yet what are we saving Africa for? The next generation? We are starving that very
generation of the resources it needs now to be able to take on its role in years to
come. We must balance these worthy aims, not promote one or two and ignore another."
In the lead up to the XV International AIDS Conference in Bangkok, World Vision is
among a group of non-government organisations calling for governments to back a
major new framework produced by UNICEF, UNAIDS and other global partners, to respond
to the crisis facing orphans and vulnerable children.
"In many countries AIDS has killed one or both parents leaving children as young as
9 or 10 with the responsibility of raising their younger brothers and sisters," Mr
"Support provided by extended families has been very successful in past generations
but now these families are under severe strain due to the enormous number of
children, sick adults and elderly requiring care."
World Vision has been joined by Care, Save the Children, Plan, the World Conference
on Religion and Peace (WCRP), and the Society of Women against AIDS in Africa (SWAA)
as members of the Hope for African Children Initiative (HACI) in calling for the
international community to commit to and fund the new framework.
In Sub-Saharan Africa in 1990 there were less than one million AIDS orphans. Today
11 million of the region's children have lost one or both parents to AIDS.
While such staggering figures have not yet emerged in Asia, Thailand proves what can
happen to children. It has a relatively small population of 63 million and an
infection rate of 1.8 per cent among adults (aged 15-49) and yet there are now some
300,000 orphans. China and India together are home to over two billion people and
within six years they may have to 30-45 million people with HIV - perhaps
overshooting today's worldwide total of 40 million.
It is essential to tackle the needs of orphans and children made vulnerable by
- Prolonging the lives of parents and caregivers by improving access to care and
- Strengthening family and community care rather than resorting to institutional care
- Ensuring access to education, shelter, good nutrition, health and social services
- Providing counselling and psychosocial support
- Ensuring child participation in prevention and care programmes.
- Equipping children with knowledge and skills to protect them from infection. [Source: CRIN]
For more information, contact:
MARTIN THOMAS, World Vision
World Vision House
Opal Drive, Fox Milne, Milton Keynes, MK15 0ZR, UK.
Posted on 2004-07-28