HIV / AIDS and children


What parliamentarians can do about HIV/AIDS



Plan of action for orphaned and vulnerable children

© UNICEF/ HQ01-0184/Giacomo Pirozzi
A 13-year-old boy orphaned by AIDS as many of his age

The situation

HIV/AIDS is the most serious threat facing Mozambique. The rate of HIV/AIDS prevalence among adults aged 15-49 has been increasing over the past few years, from 12.2 per cent in 2000 to 16.2 per cent in 2004.  AIDS is becoming a major cause of child mortality. In 2006, there are an estimated 99,000 children under 15 living with HIV/AIDS, with approximately 80 per cent below the age of five.

The AIDS pandemic continues to compound the crisis of increasing numbers of orphaned and vulnerable children. It is estimated that there are over 1.6 million orphans in Mozambique, a figure equivalent to approximately 16 per cent of the country’s total child population. Of these children, 380,000 have been orphaned by the AIDS pandemic, representing more than 20 per cent of the total orphaned population. If this trend is not reverted, by 2010 children orphaned by AIDS will reach almost 630,000.

Challenges facing orphaned and vulnerable children

  • Difficulty in accessing basic services- such as health, education, food, legal, financial and psychosocial services.

  • A very limited choice of livelihood strategies and means of generating income.

  • A tendency to rely on negative coping strategies, such as early marriage, commercial sex or harmful forms of labour.

  • A heavy responsibility, particularly for children who are heads of household, for the survival and wellbeing of other members of the household.

The response

In response to this growing crisis, the Government of Mozambique, with support from UNICEF and other partners, developed a Plan of Action for Orphaned and Vulnerable Children for 2005-2010. The Plan is based on an assessment of the situation of orphaned and vulnerable children conducted in Mozambique in 2004.

The Plan outlines two areas of action in response to the crisis: the strengthening of national capacities and direct support to the most vulnerable children. Four strategic areas were identified for its implementation:

  • Creating a protective environment to reduce the impact of HIV and AIDS on orphaned and vulnerable children.

  • Building institutional capacity in the Government to respond to the crisis of orphaned and vulnerable children.

  • Strengthening the capacity of families and communities to find local solutions for the protection and care of orphans and other children made vulnerable by HIV and AIDS.

  • Establishing and strengthening systems to gather, monitor and evaluate data.

Reaching the most vulnerable children

According to the Plan, vulnerable children are those belonging to any of the following groups:

  • Children affected or infected by HIV/AIDS. 
  • Children living in households headed by other children, youth, women or elderly persons.
  • Children living in households headed by a chronically ill adult.
  • Children living on the street.
  • Children living in institutions (orphanages, prisons, mental health institutions). 
  • Children in conflict with the law (children being prosecuted under law for minor crimes).
  • Children with disabilities.
  • Children victims of violence.
  • Children who are the victims of abuse and sexual exploitation.
  • Children who are victims of trafficking.
  • Children married before the legal age.
  • Children who are victims of the worst forms of child labour. 
  • Children married before the legal age.
  • Child refugees or children who have been internally displaced.
The Plan defines as the priority group those children living below the poverty line that are also:
  • Orphaned children (maternal, paternal or double).

  • Children infected or affected by HIV/AIDS, including children living in households headed by other children, women or elderly persons; children living in households headed by a chronically ill adult.

A comprehensive package of services for children

The Plan recognises that the needs of orphaned and vulnerable children are inter-dependent and that actions need to address them as a whole if they are to make a significant difference in the quality of children’s lives. The plan identifies six basic services- health, education, nutritional and food support, financial support, legal and psycho-social support- to be provided to orphaned and vulnerable children. Because of limited resources and capacity, the Government of Mozambique defines the provision of at least three of these services as the minimum standard for the care of orphaned and vulnerable children in Mozambique.



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