New Strategies Needed for African AIDS Orphans, Retrovirus Conference Speaker Says
In his opening remarks at the 8th Annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, CDC epidemiologist Dr. Kevin DeCock of Nairobi, Kenya, asked international agencies to "put aside all preconceived ideas and develop some radical new thinking about how to care for orphans and reduce the number of future ones," because "the world does not have any solutions" to the growing problem of children orphaned by AIDS, the New York Times reports. As family members of the children are often too sick to care for them, have died or already care for too many other children, orphanhood has become "a major public health emergency the likes of which the world has not seen before," DeCock said. According to UNAIDS, 12 million African children under the age of 15 have lost a mother or both parents to AIDS. Calling AIDS "Africa's biggest issue since slavery," DeCock explained that the enormity of the AIDS orphan problem stems from the fact that more African women than men are infected with HIV. New plans to handle the orphan dilemma are "desperately needed" because orphaned children who "roam" the community increase the threat of crime and political instability, DeCock said (Altman, New York Times, 2/5).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.