Why Sub-Saharan Africa?

Effect of AIDS on children in sub Saharan Africa

Though mostly adults of reproductive age are affected by HIV, the youngest and oldest generations are worst affected by the consequences. With each person infected with HIV, a family is forever affected - particularly the most dependent members. Recently UNICEF had called this "a crisis of gargantuan proportions." The epidemic is creating a cohort of children forced to endure the illness and loss of their parents and their own uncertain future (UNICEF, 2003).

It is very difficult to imagine the impact of this phenomenon or to measure the true numbers. According to a report published by UNICEF, UNAIDS, and USAID at least 14 million children under the age of 15 have experienced the death of one or both parents due to AIDS, and the number could rise to 25 million by 2010, if positive parents are not kept alive through antiretroviral therapy. This does not account millions of children living with affected and sick parents. Approximately three million children are themselves infected with HIV, about 90 percent of who contracted the virus from their mother during pregnancy, delivery, or breastfeeding.

The sub Saharan region of Africa is the worst affected by this pandemic. In the world, nine out of ten children living with HIV, call sub Saharan Africa home. The region has two million children younger than 15 years living with HIV, out of 24.5% of the affected population, and in 2005 the region had about 12 million orphans. Each number represents a personal story of struggle. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, by 2010, 22.9 million children will have lost their mothers or both of their parents in 23 countries heavily affected by HIV/AIDS. Nineteen of these countries are in sub-Saharan Africa.

According to UNICEF, children orphaned by AIDS are the largest and fastest growing group of children in "difficult circumstances" in sub-Saharan Africa.

Zambia has the highest proportion of orphaned children in the world, with 23% of children under 15 missing one or both parents (United Nations report.) And if this was not bleak enough, the number of parental deaths is expected to increase.

In African culture the orphaned children are taken in by the extended families. Three out of every four households in this region take care of one or more orphans. But diminishing economic conditions and high poverty levels have resulted in the abandonment of many of the children; there are more than 90,000 children now living on the streets of Lusaka, as compared to 35,000 in 1991.

Approximately one out of every four families in Uganda is now caring for an AIDS orphan.

Approximately 16.2% of children under age 15 will be orphaned from all causes in 19 African countries by 2010. In some countries like Botswana, Burkina Faso, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, this rate is expected to be over 25%. With 1/3 of the population under age 15 in many countries comprising of orphans, the HIV/AIDS pandemic will most likely create a generation which is disadvantaged, undereducated and less-than healthy.



Project One Million

The Canadian Foundation for Children with AIDS is launching Project One Million. Check out this video, like it, share it and donate ONE dollar. It is simple, but it is powerful. And, it helps a child. What could be better than that?