The deadly Aids bomb

2010-12-05 14:33

Nearly 5.7 million children would have lost one or both parents to Aids by 2015, new research has found.

The report, titled South African Families Project, by the SA Institute of Race Relations warns that the effects of the disease will continue to be felt.

This is despite a report by UNAIDS that indicates that the number of new infections is declining globally as a result of awareness and increased condom use.

The survey also warns that children who have lost a mother are at a higher risk of exposure to HIV, anxiety, depression and missing out on schooling.

By 2008, 3.95 million children in South Africa had lost one or both parents to Aids, the survey says.

The maternal orphans surveillance study released this week by social development minister Bathabile Dlamini indicates that there were about 905?453 maternal orphans in the country by the end of last year.

This accounts for about 4% of all children living in South Africa.

The study indicates that ­KwaZulu-Natal is the hardest hit, with an estimated 226?759 maternal orphans, followed by Gauteng with an estimated 147?136.

The Northern Cape ranks lowest with 24 769, while the Eastern Cape has 142 444 and the Western Cape has 38 537.

Solani Mirriam Mazibuko of the Orlando Children’s Home in Soweto, which runs an outreach programme for child-headed households, warns that the trauma of losing parents and taking on their responsibilities could cause irreparable damage to children.

“Children must play and enjoy every stage of their lives so that they can learn responsibilities attached to the various stages of their development,” she says.

“In addition to the trauma of losing parents while still young, they are given responsibilities that are far beyond their capabilities. How are they expected to guide their younger siblings when they don’t know the facts themselves?”

Dlamini said the department had put in place a policy framework and national action plan on orphans and other children made vulnerable by HIV/Aids.

She said services rendered ­under this programme included psychosocial support and material assistance, among others.

“All children need and deserve to have families that love, protect and nurture them.

“This is sadly not always the case, as many children are rendered vulnerable when their ­parents and other care-givers die under the burden of disease, especially Aids-related sicknesses, accidents or violence,” she said.

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