Foreign Policy Blogs

The Children of AIDS

HIV/AIDS is a true pandemic, and unless we take serious action, it will continue to plague us for generations, and generations to come. AIDS has taken more than 20 million lives, and HIV has infected more than 60 million people worldwide. But the virus doesn't stop there, it continues to devastate families and villages around the world, and has left at least 15 million children as orphans. The worst hit region is Sub-Saharan Africa, where the virus has been on the rapid increase, and UNICEF predicts that, while the number of orphans has already doubled due to the virus, “by 2010 50 million orphaned children, and more than a third will have lost one or both parents to AIDS”. While the numbers in Sub-Saharan Africa are high, ‘from just under 2% in 1990 to over 28% in 2003’, the numbers in Asia are higher, mainly as they have, four times more children, but their numbers are decreasing, unlike their African Counterparts.


In America when we think of HIV/AIDS we mostly tend to think back, to the 90s, but in many parts of the world today the fight against HIV/AIDS is only just beginning. In Africa alone there are around 30 million people with the virus, 3 million of which are children under 15. Though the spread of AIDS varies in many countries, Sub Saharan Africa is suffering disproportionately, much of which is due to extreme poverty and civil unrest or war. In some countries a shocking one out of every three adult may be infected, leaving many children at risk and millions more parent less.



There are major developments in the treatment of HIV/AIDS, yet much of the world has little access to these drug treatments. And while education and research has help us to prevent the disease, many in the developing world are still struggling to understand the epidemic before them, and a great deal needs to be done to inform and educate, especially in rural areas. Research has made widespread therapy for HIV possible, antiretroviral (ARV) drugs can suppress the virus and the ARV treatments are simple, yet those receiving ARV treatment remains incredibly low.

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In 2006, Save the Children issued the report, Making HIV and AIDS Financing Work for Children, in the report they claimed that an estimated $1.6 billion is needed each year. The only governments which have committed funds to children fighting HIV/AIDS are the UK, US and Ireland. Save the Children recommended, the needs of children receive much higher priority within all HIV/AIDS programs, as “current financing levels are insufficient and there is an urgent need to mobilize more resources while addressing the bottlenecks that prevent funds from reaching children”. Save the Children also recommended that more attention be given to all areas effecting children affected by HIV/AIDS, especially in the areas of decreasing transmission, and providing treatment to children with the virus.

Everyday a children loose parent's, children suffer, and children die…and these children will all die in vain if we do not pull together and fight to end this plague. For it is not just death that we must fear, but also life, for what hope is there in a village that has lost most of its adults, to a nation who fails to cope with disease? The survivors of HIV/AIDS continue to live in fear and desperation, as well as poverty, and this will only drive the millions of children into unimaginable futures. We can fight this virus, we can win, but we must not forget the children caught in the midst of the struggle, and we can not fail the future generations to come. We live in an amazing age of technology and promise, let us use our resources to fight AIDS everywhere, not just at home!

UNICEF – HIV/AIDS and Children
Human Rights Watch – HIV/and Children's Rights
AVERT-HIV, AIDS and Children
Woman, Children and HIV
Save the Children -HIV/AIDS Program
Youth AIDS Coalition
Children With AIDS Project of America
Kids Health -HIV/AIDS – Information to help you talk to children
The Body – Young People and Aids Information and Resources
Talking With Kids – HIV and AIDS
The Presidents Plan for Emergency AIDS Relief



Cassandra Clifford

Cassandra Clifford is the Founder and Executive Director of Bridge to Freedom Foundation, which works to enhance and improve the services and opportunities available to survivors of modern slavery. She holds an M.A., International Relations from Dublin City University in Ireland, as well as a B.A., Marketing and A.S., Fashion Merchandise/Marketing from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island.

Cassandra has previously worked in both the corporate and charity sector for various industries and causes, including; Child Trafficking, Learning Disabilities, Publishing, Marketing, Public Relations and Fashion. Currently Cassandra is conducting independent research on the use of rape as a weapon of war, as well as America’s Pimp Culture and its Impact on Modern Slavery. In addition to her many purists Cassandra is also working to develop a series of children’s books.

Cassandra currently resides in the Washington, D.C. metro area, where she also writes for the Examiner, as the DC Human Rights Examiner, and serves as an active leadership member of DC Stop Modern Slavery.

Areas of Focus:
Children's Rights; Human Rights; Conflict