Number of AIDS orphans to double by 2010, UN reports

Number of AIDS orphans to double by 2010, UN reports

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Painting a devastating portrait of the impact of AIDS on families, a new United Nations report released today says that the number of children around the world who will lose one or both parents to the disease will almost double by the end of the decade.

Painting a devastating portrait of the impact of AIDS on families, a new United Nations report released today says that the number of children around the world who will lose one or both parents to the disease will almost double by the end of the decade.

“Children on the Brink” says that an already grim global orphan crisis is set to get much worse as more and more adults with children die from AIDS, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. The report finds more than 13.4 million children have lost one or both parents to the epidemic in the three regions studied, and that number will increase to 25 million by 2010.

The report – published jointly by the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and released at the XIV International AIDS Conference in Barcelona – calls for action at all levels to assist children, families and communities who are affected by the unprecedented emergency.

The report identifies several trends, including the findings that Africa has the greatest proportion of children who are orphans, while Asia has the largest overall number of orphans. The study also says that orphan populations are concentrated, reflecting broader trends in HIV prevalence and population and that the number of parentless children will continue to rise.

"HIV/AIDS has created an orphans crisis," said UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot. "This unprecedented crisis will require radically scaled-up national, regional and community responses in the decades to come."

Echoing that theme, the Executive Director of UNICEF, Carol Bellamy, called for a response that addresses the needs and rights of both orphans and vulnerable children whose parents were still living. "Countries that have high rates of orphaning due to AIDS also have high levels of children seriously impacted by the epidemic, such as those with ill parents or living in households that have taken in orphans,” she said. “They are often just as vulnerable."