The HIV/AIDS epidemic is a massive and rapidly mounting disaster for children. Almost 3 million children
are infected with the HIV virus or living with AIDS. More than 14 million children under the age of 15 have
lost one or both parents to AIDS, the vast majority of them in sub-Saharan Africa.
By 2010, the number of children orphaned by AIDS globally is expected to exceed 25 million. But that is
just a fraction of the number of children whose lives will have been radically altered by the impact of
HIV/AIDS on their families, communities, schools, health care and welfare systems and local and national
economies. With rates of HIV infection on the rise in many regions of the world, this crisis for children will
persist for decades, even as prevention and treatment programmes are expanded.
The reaction of families and communities to the plight of these children has been compassionate and
remarkably resilient. However, they are struggling under the strain. To date, few resources are reaching
families and communities who are providing this front-line response, and little attention is given to
orphans and vulnerable children in most national development agendas. Moreover, donors have yet to
put forth comprehensive programmes on this issue. Responding to the crisis of children affected by
HIV/AIDS is clearly not yet seen as a global priority.
This framework, which was drawn up in collaboration with development practitioners and representatives
from a broad array of governmental agencies, faith-based and non-governmental organizations,
academic institutions, the private sector and civil society, presents a unique opportunity for collective
action. No single government or agency can effectively respond to the myriad of problems created by the
epidemic. But by working together in a creative, coordinated way вЂ“ with a common agenda вЂ“ we can take
an enormous step in the right direction.
The framework is based on lessons learned over many years. It considers families and communities as
the foundation of an effective, scaled-up response. Children, too, can be powerful agents of change, a
role that enhances their confidence and self-esteem as they become partners in the fight against
HIV/AIDS. In addition, the framework recommends that interventions that result from it be directed to all
vulnerable children and the communities in which they reside, and integrated into other programmes to
promote child welfare and reduce poverty. Targeting children living with HIV or AIDS or orphaned as a
result of it will only serve to exacerbate the stigma and discrimination against them. The frameworkвЂ™s key
strategies are as follows:
The specific mix of activities to be implemented within countries will depend on local needs, capacities
and priorities. However, there is a growing consensus that education is pivotal in improving the lives and
future prospects of orphans and those made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS. Access to essential services also
includes equitable access for children, parents and carers' to life prolonging therapy with ARVs.
Strengthen the capacity of families to protect and care for orphans and vulnerable children by
prolonging the lives of parents and providing economic, psychosocial and other support;
Mobilize and support community-based responses;
Ensure access for orphans and vulnerable children to essential services, including education, health
care, birth registration and others;
Ensure that governments protect the most vulnerable children through improved policy and
legislation and by channelling resources to families and communities;
Raise awareness at all levels through advocacy and social mobilization to create a supportive
environment for children and families affected by HIV/AIDS.
The framework concludes by defining key actions that must be taken urgently, including the prioritization
of support for orphans, vulnerable children and their families in the national policies, actions and plans of
affected countries. It asks all governments to assess their resource commitments to launch and sustain
an adequate response over the decades that the crisis will be with us.