Statistics from the 2015 UNAIDS Report show that South Africa has one of the largest HIV prevalence rates in the world. Among those infected with HIV are hundreds of thousands of children. Millions more have been orphaned by AIDS.
- 7 million South Africans are living with HIV. 240,000 of them are children.
- HIV prevalence in South Africa is 19.2% of people aged 15 to 49 compared to an average of 5% in the rest of sub-Saharan Africa and less than 1% worldwide.
- 6.7 million adults aged 15 and up are living with HIV.
- 4 million women aged 15 and up are living with HIV.
- In 2015, there were 180,000 deaths due to AIDS.
- In 2010, AIDS was responsible for 35% of deaths in South African children under the age of five , and is the leading cause of death for women with children.
- As a result, there are 2.1 million orphaned children (aged 0-17) living in South Africa who have lost their parents to AIDS.
The Impact on children beyond the trauma of the death of a parent, children orphaned by AIDS are subject to stigma and discrimination, abuse, and exploitation. They are also at higher risk for contracting HIV. Children affected by AIDS are more likely than their peers to:
lag behind in both communication and decision-making skills
be depressed and/or aggressive
abuse drugs or alcohol
be expected to work to earn money rather than attend school
be the victims of sexual abuse, enter the sex trade, and/or engage in sexual activities at a younger age
Education and Empowerment are key to preventing infection. Currently fewer than half of young people in South Africa are able to correctly answer five simple questions about HIV and how it is spread. However, access to curriculum-based sex and HIV education programs is a powerful tool for prevention. Many adolescents who participate in curriculum-based HIV education programs experience delayed or decreased sexual behavior and/or increased condom use.
Studies show that young people’s behavior can be changed for the long term through these programs.
Young women who are empowered in their relationships are less likely to contract HIV. In South Africa, HIV infection rates are higher among young women who are in abusive relationships with men.
Programs for children and adolescents are most effective when they include life skills, especially those that enhance their ability to refuse sex, insist on condom use, and avoid unsafe situations.