Aids orphans 'to
Wednesday, 10 July, 2002, 16:32 GMT 17:32 UK
are left to cope without their parents
number of children orphaned by Aids will almost double to 25m
by the end of the decade, experts predict.
A report compiled by aid
agencies, presented to the International Aids Conference in
Barcelona, said extended families often fail to cope, and many
children are forced to live on the street.
It says even if action is
taken now, the number of orphans would continue to rise for
The threat HIV poses was
graphically illustrated by scientists at the conference who
warned people who were already HIV positive should use condoms
because there was a risk of them contracting another strain of
The report from UNAids, the
UN children's agency Unicef and the US development agency
USAid looked at data for 88 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin
America and the Caribbean.
The report "Children on
the Brink" estimates that in 2001, 13.4m children, had
lost one or both parents to Aids.
Sub-Saharan Africa, where
70% of people with HIV or Aids live, is set to be hardest hit
in the future.
By 2010, an estimated 20m
children - almost 6% of all the children in Africa - will be
orphaned by Aids if present trends continue, the report
The total in Asia is set to
double by 2010 to 4.3m.
But the report warned the
total in Asia could be even greater because of indications the
number of HIV cases in countries with large populations, such
as China, India and Indonesia, are growing.
Significant increases are
also predicted in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala and
In Latin American and the
Caribbean, there were 578,000 Aids orphans last year, 200,000
of them in Haiti alone. The prediction for 2010 is for the
total to reach 898,000.
Carol Bellamy, executive
director of Unicef said children often suffer severe
psychological and emotional problems.
Increases in Aids orphans
2001 - 13.4m
2010 - 25m
2001 - 9m
2010 - 20m
2001 - 1.8m
2010 - 4.3m
2001 - 578,000
2010 - 898,000
Girls in particular may miss
out on education, parental guidance and suffer social stigma,
and fall into prostitution or crime.
She said although resources
from rich countries were vital, local governments must help
children by ending the stigma they face, and improving
Ms Bellamy told the BBC:
"When the father dies, if there was any property in the
family, in many countries, certainly in Africa, there is no
inheritance, so it has implications.
"When the mother dies,
the family virtually falls apart."
Where both parents die, the
extended family often takes children in, with elderly
grandparents or older children bearing the brunt of providing
for a family.
If these networks of family
support break down, orphans can be forced to live in the
Ms Bellamy added: "Even
if prevalence rates of HIV in countries were to begin level
off or even go down, we know that the increase of number of
orphans would go on for a number of years."
She said the community, the
family and particularly the young person themselves were
crucial in tackling the problem.
"There's no question in
some cases they're going to be on their own and trying to give
them some life skills is going to be crucial."
She said private sector,
political and religious leader had to recognise the long term
impact of orphans on a countries stability and finances as an
area where some of the greatest impact would be felt.
Peter Piot, executive
director of UNAids, warned: "HIV/Aids has created an
"In some countries, the
very fabric of society is disappearing, and family structures
"The most catastrophic
scenarios can be envisaged."
A special session of the UN
general assembly last summer called on governments to draw up
strategies for Aids orphans by 2003 and to implement them by
The danger of people already
HIV positive being "super-infected" by another
strain was outlined at the conference by Anthony Fauci,
director of the US National Institute of Allergy and
He said even couples where
both partners were HIV positive should use condoms.
Dr Fauci said there had been
cases where patients controlled their infection, until they
were infected for a second time, when their condition
He said this could be
because their immune system could not cope.
Dr Fauci said: "Although definitive data doesn't
exist ,,, there are strong suggestions that someone infected
with one virus and get 'super-infected' with another."