Life as a Child Orphaned by AIDS.

What is an Orphan

An orphan is a child who has lost or been separated from one or both parents. Children without one parent are sometimes called single orphans. Children missing both parents are often referred to as double or total orphans. Because of the stigma attached to orphans, social scientists often simply refer to orphans and other children in need of help as vulnerable children.

Physical Effects

The cumulative effects of losing one or both parents to HIV/AIDS are devastating. Many orphans are left without financial means. Because few people ever create written wills in third-world countries, orphans rarely inherit family assets or property. Children often withdraw from school to find ways to make money to care for themselves and sometimes other family members as well. Many are forced to skip meals and are unable to afford medical care (Source: Unicef).

Mental Anguish

Orphans also often lack adequate love and affection, and are forced to adapt quickly to unfamiliar environments. HIV/AIDS is highly stigmatized and often misunderstood in developing countries, causing many orphans to become socially isolated. Even when living with other family members, these children are frequently treated as outcasts.

Forced to take on adult responsibilities and cope with traumatic events, orphans mature rapidly. Many are left to care for loved ones, protect the home and its assets, or even make burial arrangements following a death.

Vulnerability

Without proper guardians, orphaned children are highly susceptible to falling victim to physical and sexual abuse. Many resort to prostitution for financial support, creating new risks of HIV/AIDS infection.