Zimbabwe's has 1.3 million AIDS orphans
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Zimbabwe has more than 1.3 million children orphaned by AIDS and 50,000 households headed by children below the age of 18 whose parents died of the disease, the 2009 report by the National Aids Council (NAC) has announced.
NAC, a statutory body that co-ordinates the national response to AIDS, revealed the statistics during a workshop held in Bulawayo in December to review progress in tackling the pandemic.
Children orphaned by the disease now constitute one quarter of the child population in Zimbabwe.
Left in the care of relatives or even alone, most of them are denied basic rights, the report says, and as a result they are likely to suffer psychological and social problems and are far more likely to be subjected to forced sex in adolescence. These factors in turn contribute to a large number contracting HIV, the NAC warns.
"The erosion of livelihoods and negative coping mechanisms resulting from increasing poverty makes orphans particularly vulnerable," the report says. "Orphaned children are less likely to access health care, attend school and access basic materials."
More than 2,500 people die of AIDS every week in Zimbabwe, which has however seen a drop in HIV rates from 15 percent in 2008 to 11 percent last year.
Sources: The National (UAE)
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