Children are at risk of mental, physical and psychological trauma, growing up with the scars of AIDS resultant mutilated life. There is the horrifying problem of children getting AIDS due to the parental ailment. That apart, assuming that these children were born before the parents were afflicted, this will not allow them off the hook and for the rest of their lives, they usually are troubled with the resultant trauma, if not by regular AIDS itself, and for a child, both are equally terrifying.
Despite the publicity and literature, surprisingly there is a lack of knowledge about the fatal disease, its transmission and preventive measures. This happens perhaps mainly due to the stigma attached to HIV. People still hesitate to openly discuss the implications and policies; their rights and the help on hand. Usually the subject is avoided, especially in the presence of children. If children are below the understandable age, any way it is not easy for them to know, other than that their parents are suffering and dying and the future is bleak for them. If they are adolescents or old enough to understand the implications, their suffering is all the more acute. It is extremely difficult for children to watch the parents suffer from AIDS and the connected 'opportunistic' illnesses, like serious, incurable infections. It is mentally debilitating for them to see the difficult times that the parents are going through. to see the agony of approaching death, and to watch the parents who were their security in their short lives, losing their strength and nearing the death's door with every passing minute is psychologically horrendous for the innocent lives.
According to a 1986 survey by CDC 28,098 cases were reported and 15,757 were dead by December 18, 1986. According to Public Health Service, two million people in US are infected, but are asymptomatic. CDC projected in 1986 that 270,000 cases in US by 1991. 79% of them came from families in which one or both parents were afflicted. 88% were children under 5 out of which 20% were white, 57% were black, and 22% were Hispanic and 55% of them were male children. (All figures based on http://www.ericdigests.org/pre-925/aids.htm)
Children, unlike other social segments, lack cohesion, grouping, militancy, united fight and lobbying. They simply resign themselves to reality and wither away and hence, the need for their protection is on the society and government. This is a sacred and bounden duty and immense responsibility.
"According to the UN definition, which includes children that have lost either their mother or both parents before the age of 15, the epidemic is already thought to have created 14m orphans ," (Elbe, 2003, p.54).
After a few years, the real horror of the problem struck the world, when an extensive survey was taken and the unimaginable figures came out.
"In the year 2000, UNAIDS Report gave the figure as 34.75 million children below the age of fifteen who have been orphaned because of AIDS" (Smith, 2003, pp. 108-9).
AIDS still remains the same life threatening and devastating disease with a connected stigma. It becomes extremely difficult when the individual/s hit by AIDS belong to a family with children. Sometimes, children are already affected. But sometimes the earlier children might not have been affected and will survive their parents.
It is difficult to presume the reaction and questions from a child's standpoint, watching one or both