How is Namibia helping HIV/AIDS Orphans?

WHAT IS HIV/AIDS?

As of 2017, 36.9million people are living with HIV/AIDs globally. HIV is a virus that is transmitted during sex or from an infected mother to her baby. AIDS is a disease of the immune system caused by HIV. It is estimated that 12% of Namibian adults live with HIV. Further, there are 13000 Namibian children infected with HIV and 69,000 who have been orphaned due to HIV.

Namibia is in some ways, an HIV success story. HIV has been steadily declining in the country since 2002. Around 9000 Namibian children are receiving life-saving anti-retroviral treatment, for free. Indeed, it is estimated 50,000 children in the country have been saved from becoming orphans.

Namibia is a relatively wealthy African country. It has the tenth-largest economy on the continent. But that wealth is not shared well. This means certain regions lack the funding for clinics and schools to deal with the AIDS crisis. Namibia’s population is concentrated in two specific regions, the capital and the northern Angolan border. The government is better at helping orphans living near the capital.

HIV/AIDS ORPHANS

Children orphaned by HIV are 40% less likely to go to school if they live in Kunene, a province in the country’s north, than other children. But in the capital, HIV orphans are almost as likely to go to school as other children. This highlights how much help you get from the government depends on where you live.

Counsellors, who help orphans cope with psychological trauma, are very effective. The problem is that schools rarely have the funds to employ counsellors, and so counselling is very rare. Instead, it could be more effective to give teachers the training to also act as counsellors.

HIV/AIDs impacts many more people than those it infects. Those left behind by HIV face tough lives. But the Namibian government has made steps to make life easier. More work needs to be done to help people living in remoter areas.

CHRISTOPHER LUNNON

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