SOUTH AFRICA: The difference AIDS makes to vulnerable children

Photo: Lucie Cluver/Oxford University

[www.irinnews.org]

JOHANNESBURG, 5 November 2010 (PlusNews) – New South African research shows that AIDS-affected children struggle with educational and mental health issues more than their peers, who are vulnerable for other reasons.

The research, which authors said was the first to measure the effects of AIDS-related illness among care-givers on children, was conducted by Oxford University and South Africa’s University of the Witwatersrand and presented at the Orphaned and Vulnerable Children (OVC) Conference in Johannesburg on 1 November.

Led by Oxford’s Lucie Cluver, the study followed 730 vulnerable children from three South African provinces – the Western and Eastern Capes as well as Gauteng – over four years.

Researchers found that having a care-giver suffering from an AIDS-related illness almost doubled the chances of a child not being enrolled in school compared with a child whose carer experienced other illnesses. Children whose care-givers were battling opportunistic infections were also more likely to miss school days and have concentration problems.

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