HIV & CHILDREN
HIV affects many children who are not infected by the virus. It affects children whose brothers and sisters or parents are infected. Children as young as 5 years old nurse their parents as they die. This often means that they are unable to attend school.
The children rarely have assistance and support in coping with their stress and grief. When a child’s parents die, they may only have more distant relatives to turn to for support. Some AIDS orphans are well aware that they are unwanted and resented by their guardians.
Sickness prevents parents from earning money. Consequently, we have seen a steady increase in child malnutrition since 1992. Chronic malnutrition, now affects 44% of urban children, and 60% of rural children. The nutritional status of Zambia’s children is amongst the worst in the world, and it is made worse by AIDS.
With no money, children also cannot go to school. For primary school, pupils need uniforms, shoes and socks, books, and other items, costing about $25 per child a year. This is too expensive for people with low incomes, or large families. Teachers are reporting increased problems in school from children who are tired, hungry, distressed or upset by their home situation, mostly due to AIDS and poverty. Teachers try to help, but have few resources and little time.
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