HIV & AIDS and Children
Protection, Care and Support for Children Affected by HIV and AIDS
|© © UNICEF/NYHQ2010-1482/Shehzad Noorani|
|A teacher helps ten-year old James write on the blackboard during an English lesson in Uganda. James, whose parents died of AIDS-related causes is receiving assistance from a UNICEF-supported programme.|
• HIV and AIDS profoundly affect children at many levels. A child’s family and community can be hard struck by the effects of AIDS as parents get sick, are not able to work or are not there to protect their children. The results of this can disrupt children’s lives and put their health and security at risk.
• As of 2012, more than 17.8 million children had lost one or both parents due to AIDS, almost 85 per cent of which live in Sub-saharan Africa.
• Children orphaned by AIDS are considered vulnerable - recent UNICEF research shows that factors such as poverty levels and access to education are also important indications of vulnerability.
• Between 2000 and 2012, social protection programmes, particularly cash transfers, appear to be rapidly expanding, with some estimates suggesting they have doubled in Africa – from 120 programmes implemented between 2000 and 2009 to about 245 programmes in 2012 – with an estimated US$10 billion supporting cash transfer programmes in 2012 alone the number of cash transfer programmes- which have shown to have positive impact on families affected by HIV and AIDS, increased nearly ten-fold throughout sub-Saharan Africa.
What is the response?
Economic support and social care are both important for reducing the impacts of HIV on children and families, new infections in adolescent girls, as well as for supporting the uptake of and retention in services. Social protection, care and support works at all levels – from local and community to national - to improve health, maintain continuity in education, prevent marginalisation through stigma and discrimination, and reinforce and support families in the face of poverty and illness.Social protection has the potential to play a key role in reducing an individual’s chance of becoming infected with HIV, improving treatment access and adherence, and reducing the likelihood that HIV will have a damaging effect on individuals, households and communities.
Over the past ten years, economic safety nets which are inclusive of vulnerable households affected by HIV/AIDS have expanded significantly, catalysing broader social protection responses, such as cash transfers. There has also been an increased focus on strengthening the social services workforce at the lowest levels, to improve the capacity of care workers and social workers to ensure families and children affected by HIV and AIDS are being identified, supported, referred to services and provided social work to address violence, abuse and neglect.
What is UNICEF doing?
UNICEF supports a response to children affected by AIDS by providing protection, care and support to mitigate the impact of the HIV epidemic on households, but also to support increased access and retention into HIV treatment and care programmes. UNICEF supports strong linkages to child protection systems to provide social care and protection to children and families affected by HIV and AIDS.
Cash transfers are regular stipends for ultra-poor and marginalized families and help families access basic services and maintain a healthy level of nutrition and a sense of dignity.