What is often overlooked is the ripple effect the epidemic will have on future governance, social structures and growth of the worst hit countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Dramatically high mortality rates will result in the depletion of much of the labour force, both in urban and rural areas, with the losses having a profound impact on the very foundations of economies and state administration. Undoubtedly, sub-Saharan Africa is not alone in facing this challenge – several countries in Asia are beginning to feel the early impact of the “lost generation” of children orphaned and made vulnerable by AIDS. With the toll of AIDS orphans threatening to reach 25 million by the year 2010, this problem should remain at the centre of attention of all concerned – governments, the public and the media -- to stem the spread of this scourge.
There are more than 34 million orphans in the region today and some 11 million of them are orphaned by AIDS. Eight out of every 10 children in the world whose parents have died of AIDS live in sub-Saharan Africa. During the last decade, the proportion of children who are orphaned as a result of AIDS rose from 3.5% to 32% and will continue to increase exponentially as the disease spreads unchecked. As a result, the disease is in effect making orphans of a whole generation of children, jeopardizing their health, their rights, their well-being and sometimes their very survival, not to mention the overall development prospects of their countries.
The data is the outcome of a modelling exercise that involved estimating how many people will die from HIV/AIDS and other causes and calculating the number of children who are likely to be orphaned.) The number of orphans in sub-Saharan Africa would be declining were it not for HIV/AIDS. But because of the disease’s spread, the number of orphans is increasing exponentially.
THE EPIDEMIC HAS ORPHANED MILLIONS Eight out of every 10 children who have lost parents to HIV/AIDS live in sub-Saharan Africa. Between 1990 and 2001, the proportion of orphans whose parents died from HIV/AIDS rose from 3.5 per cent to 32 per cent. There are more than 34 million orphans in the region today, 11 million of them orphaned by HIV/AIDS.