Posted on 1 October 2013
An estimated 5.6million people were living with HIV and AIDS in South Africa in 2009, the highest number of people in any country. In the same year, it was estimated that 310,000 South Africans died of AIDS-related causes, reflecting the huge number of lives that the country has lost to AIDS over the last couple of decades.
South Africa’s HIV and AIDS pandemic has had a devastating effect on the children of the country. There were an estimated 330,000 under 15’s living with HIV in 2009, a figure that has almost doubled since 2001. HIV in South Africa is transmitted predominantly through hetrosexual sex, with mother-to-child transmission being the other main infection route. Because the virus is transmitted from the child’s mother in cases of mother-to-child transmission, the HIV-infected child is born into a family where the virus may have already had a sever impact on health, income, productivity and the ability to care for each other.
The age brackets that AIDS most heavily targets – younger adults – means it is not uncommon for one or more parents to die for AIDS while their offspring are young. The number of premature deaths due to HIV/AIDS has risen significantly over the last decades from 39% to 75% in 2010.
The loss of a parent not only has an immense emotional impact on children, but, for most families can spell financial hardship. One survey on HIV’s impact on households found that, ‘80% of the sample would lose more than half their per capita income and with the death of the highest income earner, suggesting a lingering and debilitating shock of death.”
It is estimated there are over 2million AIDS orphans where one or both parents are deceased in South Africa, and that the HIV and AIDS pandemic is responsible for half of the country’s orphans. Another estimate puts the proportion of maternal orphans – those who have lost their mother – orphaned by AIDS as over 70%. Orphans may put pressure on older relatives who become their primary carers; they may have to relocate from their familiar neighbourhood and siblings may be split apart, all of which can harm their development. Child Headed Households are also very often the result of both parents passing away – the oldest child takes over the parenting responsibility, which is debilitating.
Despite global commitments to combat HIV and AIDS and to reduce child mortality, more than 1000 children continue to be newly infected with HIV every day and life-saving antiretroviral treatment remains absent for the majority of children living in low-and middle-income areas…. more than half these children will die as a result of AIDS. In addition, millions more children every year are indirectly affected by the pandemic as a result of the death and suffering caused in their families and communities.
Preventing HIV infection, providing life prolonging treatment and relieving the impact of HIV and AIDS for children and their families and communities is possible. However, a lack of necessary investment and resources for adequate testing, antiretroviral drugs, and prevention programmes, as well as stigma and discrimination, mean children continue to suffer the consequences of the pandemic.
Soul Of Africa aims to lessen the impact of HIV on orphans and vulnerable children and youth through the sale of hand-stitched shoes. These shoes are hand-stitched by previously unemployed women in South Africa which in turn promotes local industry and creates self-sustainable employment in a country that has one of the highest unemployment rates in the world. Proceeds from the shoe sales are donated to the Soul Of Africa Trust to improve the lives of orphans and vulnerable children in South Africa. Since 2005 Soul Of Africa has raised over $2million… ensuring children are able to survive beyond childhood.
The figure below show the number of children (defined by UNAIDS as under-15’s) directly affected by HIV/AIDS:
At the end of 2010, there were 3.4million children living with HIV around the world.
An estimated 390,000 children became newly infected with HIV in 2010.
Of the 1.8million people who died of AIDS during 2010, one in seven were children. Every hour, around 30 children die as a result of AIDS.
There are more than 16million children under the age of 18 who have lost one or both parents to AIDS.
Most children living with HIV/AIDS – almost 9 in 10 – live in sub-Saharan Africa, the region of the world where AIDS has taken its greatest toll.
1 October 2013
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