December 1, 2010
The Hidden Impact Of Aids On South African Children
December 1st is World AIDS day. There are 33.4 million people worldwide living with HIV, 67per cent in the Sub-Saharan Africa region. In South Africa alone, 5.6 million people are HIV-positive, with only 22 per cent having access to anti-retroviral medication. A pioneering study, funded by Economic and Social Research Council and the South African National Research Foundation, finds that those children who care for parents with AIDS have a higher level of mental illness.
With an overburdened health system, many patients remain at home, where their children take responsibility for their care. For these children, orphanhood is not a single acute event, but a process preceded by a parent's chronic and debilitating illness. Early findings indicate that amongst children living with AIDS-sick adults, 25 per cent do more than three hours of care work per day. In addition, a third undertake medical tasks such as dressing wounds, bathing and toileting the sick person, far higher proportions than amongst children caring for other-sick parents or guardians.
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