4 Million New AIDS Orphans

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“Over Medicalized.” That’s what they are calling the response to the current AIDS pandemic. At the 19th International AIDS Conference, it was reported that we had an “unintended catastrophe.”

If you have read my responses to the HIV/AIDS crisis, you have certainly heard of my elation at the use of Anti-retrovirals in the treatment of HIV in order to prevent the virus from turning into AIDS. One of the most successful parts of this medical treatment is a program called PMTCT (Prevent-Mother-To-Child-Transmission). This program has been so successful that over 95% of the babies born to mothers with HIV/AIDS have not contracted the virus. This has been one of the most impressive breakthroughs in the whole medical response to the staggering numbers of people with AIDS especially in Africa.

However, the unintended crisis is that this has produced a huge number of AIDS orphans. Through medical help children have survived childbirth without contracting HIV/AIDS, yet the mothers are still dying from the disease. In spite of medical advancements and partially because of medical advancements, we have seen an estimated increase of 4 million AIDS orphans in the last three years. There are now more than 20 million AIDS orphans worldwide—equal to the population of Australia.

Even though we have experienced a medical and humanitarian triumph in the lives of children who do not have HIV, far too little has been done concerning the fate of the children who are born. These children are born healthy into a world without parents, education, food, and housing. They also suffer from the grief of losing their parents.

The International AIDS Conference has now acknowledged what should have been a part of the solution from the beginning. Medical groups should have been partnering with nongovernmental and faith-based organizations to ensure that there was care for the lives of these children after
they are born.

What we do at Christian Relief Fund by taking care of AIDS orphans is now being recognized as indispensable in the solution to the AIDS pandemic. Medicine is needed but is lacking — and actually creating new challenges.

Perhaps you thought that the days of helping AIDS orphans were over. No, the numbers of AIDS orphans that CRF is trying to help are increasing dramatically. I do think medicine is on the right road. I want to see further developments until we have a cure for AIDS. But I want people to see that medicine alone is not the answer. We need loving people to sponsor some of these new AIDS orphans more than ever. - Milton Jones

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