Locating HIV-Positive Orphans in Togo Difficult Because of ‘Stigma,’ Opinion Piece Says
The "stigma" attached to HIV/AIDS in Togo makes it difficult to locate and distribute international aid to HIV-positive orphans in the country, Peace Corps volunteer Jean-Marc Gorelick writes in a Christian Science Monitor opinion piece. At the end of 2003, an estimated 77,000 children who lost one or both parents to AIDS-related illness lived in Togo, which has a population of five million people, according to Gorelick. However, because HIV/AIDS is "the invisible elephant in the living room that no one talks about" in Togo, no one identifies themself or their family members as being HIV-positive, Gorelick says. Therefore, collecting accurate data on how many AIDS orphans live in Togo is impossible, Gorelick writes. The "only way" AIDS orphans -- or "stigma orphans" -- can be identified is "if those in powerful social institutions -- government, churches, schools and the media -- stop the subtle and overt, legal and extralegal, social and economic discrimination that makes secrecy an understandable strategy in an unforgiving world," Gorelick concludes (Gorelick, Christian Science Monitor, 11/18).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.