Nkosi Johnson Posthumously Awarded World’s Children’s Prize for the Rights of the ChildNkosi Johnson, the 12-year-old South African HIV/AIDS activist who died of AIDS-related causes last year, yesterday was posthumously awarded the World's Children's Prize for the Rights of the Child, the Associated Press reports. The award, established three years ago by the Swedish Children's World Organization to recognize individuals who "fight for children's rights," will be presented on Monday in Sweden by Queen Silvia. Nkosi, whose mother also died of AIDS-related causes, and his foster mother Gail Johnson established Nkosi's Haven, a center where low-income women with AIDS could live with their children for free. In choosing Nkosi, the selection committee called him a "role model for children with AIDS and for the healthy children whom he taught not to be afraid of children with HIV/AIDS and to respect them." Gail Johnson, Nkosi's foster mother, said it was "wonderful that he got this international recognition" and added that the prize money would be used to continue Nkosi's mission of caring for HIV-positive women and their children (Grandell, Associated Press, 4/10).
Number of AIDS Orphans Could Double By 2010
According to statistics released this week by UNICEF, 10.4 million children worldwide have been orphaned by AIDS, and that number could double by 2010. UNICEF says that nearly 2.3 million people under the age of 15 lost either their mother or both parents to the disease in 2000, Agence France-Presse reports. The majority of AIDS orphans, like the majority of HIV/AIDS cases, are in sub-Saharan Africa with Nigeria, followed by Ethiopia, recording the most children orphaned by AIDS in 1999 (Agence France-Presse, 4/10). A UNICEF fact sheet states that AIDS orphans are likely to experience psychosocial distress, economic hardship and fear and isolation. They are also likely to withdraw from school and may be "cheated out of their inheritance." They also face increased abuse and risk of HIV infection and are more likely to suffer from malnutrition and illness (UNICEF fact sheet, February 2002). The AIDS orphan fact sheet is available online, as are fact sheets about youth and HIV/AIDS and vertical HIV transmission.