A new lost generation

2010-10-17 10:36

While improved access to anti-retroviral­ therapy in South Africa­ has enabled orphans living with HIV to thrive well into adulthood­, it has created new challenges as their generation emerges to take its place in the workforce.

A lack of forethought has resulted­ in certain challenges not being ­addressed, says a new study by the ­Institute for a Democratic South ­Africa’s (Idasa’s) Governance and Aids Programme (GAP), on children living with and affected by HIV/Aids.

Idasa estimates that South Africa has about three million orphans, many of whose parents died of HIV-related illnesses.

Dating, sex and health education are a minefield for caregivers­ and counsellors as these children reach their teen years, the report says.

It is ironic that the very existence of such challenges “bears testimony to how far proper care and treatment can go in turning lives around”, said GAP researchers Mwanja Ng’anjo and Christèle Diwouta.

But “there will be a lost generation of young adults if something isn’t done to address their needs”.

Although some children are reintegrated­ into the community through foster care or adoption, concerns over their wellbeing and ability to cope in society remain.

Esther Jaca, manager of the Mohau­ Children’s Home in Pretoria­, where Idasa conducted its research, said timely reintegration was vital.

“It will prepare them for adulthood, and through education we want to prevent the cycle (of reinfection) from continuing,” she said.

Nodumo Ndengezi, a social worker at Beautiful Gate, a children’s home in Philippi, Cape Town, said funds were needed for tertiary education and skills development.

State bursaries required a declaration of parents’ income and proof of a permanent residential address.

She added that there was a great need for mentors to help out until HIV-positive­ children became fully independent. – West Cape News

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