Aids Orphans

The situation regarding AIDS orphans turns out to be more serious than was originally thought.

"A year ago, they told me there were 80 attached to the Mpongwe Mission Hospital," reports HHI's director. "Then they surveyed - and found 400. These kids are at the bottom of the pile for education and health - a new subculture will grow up around them, a subculture with no education or prospects. What are they expected to become? Criminals?"

An interesting report from the Tear Fund adds that there is more to this than meets the eye.

It is, predictably, the young adults who are suffering, whereas the elderly have avoided it and the very young, unless born with it, are not yet at risk.

The result is the loss of a generation - the elderly, who expected their children to support them in old age, have now had to turn back into surrogate parents, caring for their grandchildren.

Those children, in turn are going to be a generation coming into adulthood without any close family or role models.

It seems ludicrous to report that Zambia is fractionally better off than the rest of Africa, in saying that only one in five people carry the virus, compared to a quite incredible continental average of one in three.

The only African nation to acknowledge the size of the problem is Uganda, which has begun to see rates of infection fall.