You are here: Home » About us » Press releases » Plea to SA Aids Conference: “Support Young Children in South Africa HIV/AIDS Response”

Plea to SA Aids Conference: “Support Young Children in South Africa HIV/AIDS Response”

As health experts, politicians and community activists prepare for the 4th Southern African Aids Conference in Durban (31 March – 4 April), a new book to be launched at the conference highlights the invisibility of very young children in the HIV/AIDS response and demands a new approach.

As health experts, politicians and community activists prepare for the 4th Southern African Aids Conference in Durban (31 March – 4 April), a new book to be launched at the conference highlights the invisibility of very young children in the HIV/AIDS response and demands a new approach.

‘Growing Pains: How poverty and AIDS are challenging childhood’ tells stories from the frontline. The book, by journalists Anthony Swift and Stan Maher, gives voice to those struggling to ensure that the next generation of South Africa’s children survives to adulthood.

The book draws attention to the neglect of young children (aged 0-8 years) in the official response to HIV and AIDS. Panos will be arguing through briefings and participation at the Conference that the increasing crisis for children should be mitigated through:

Ensuring social support for all vulnerable children, not only those with HIV or those who have lost parents to AIDS;

Involving children and supporting them to communicate their perspectives in the HIV response;

Ensuring that money and development support reaches those that need it – households and communities supporting children at the grass-roots level – something which remains a challenge;

Ensuring universal access to essential services – health, welfare and education – and livelihoods as a necessary foundation for family and community initiatives to support children.

Anthony Swift explained:

“Our study asks what is happening to very young children in the context of poverty and AIDS and concludes that much closer attention should be given to their special needs in family support programmes and interventions.”

Stan Maher added:

“The issue of supporting young children in the context of poverty and HIV/AIDS remains striking in its invisibility. Issues include abuse and violence against children; the fact that the ‘extended family’ has collapsed in many places; the reliance on unpaid or low-paid volunteers who have very little themselves; and the struggle of parents and carers to find energy, time and affection for children when trying themselves to survive severely adverse life circumstances.”

Robin Vincent, Senior HIV/AIDS Programme Advisor for Panos London and co-editor, said:

“While forms of neighbourhood support circles and other community-level activities, including youth mobilisation are making a real difference to children in Southern African communities ravaged by the HIV/AIDS crisis, governments must support these efforts, listen to what people affected are saying and fulfil their obligations to the country’s children.”

– ENDS –

For copies of the book, photographs to accompany any reviews/articles, or to arrange an interview, please email Mark Covey mark.covey@panos.org.uk or tel +44 (0)20 7239 7622.

Notes for editors

‘Growing Pains: How poverty and AIDS are challenging childhood’ (ISBN 978 1 870670 39 5), by Anthony Swift and Stan Maher, is published by Panos London www.panos.org.uk/resources/growing-pains/

The book forms part of an exciting and wide-ranging communications initiative to generate urgent public and policy debate on what is needed to provide children and families affected by HIV/AIDS in southern Africa with effective support. Additional materials include a large-scale photographic exhibition, a multimedia film, policy reports and radio programming. For more information see www.panos.org.uk/growingpains

The book was commissioned by the Bernard van Leer Foundation which supports research and knowledge sharing of early childhood development in Africa and other parts of the world. http://www.bernardvanleer.org/

Panos London is part of a global not-for-profit Panos network that promotes the participation of poor and marginalised people in international development debates through media and communication projects – www.panos.org.uk

 

Posted by

03/31/2009