- AIDS: 4.8 million (2007)
- AIDS orphans: 1.8 million (2001)
The AIDS orphans epidemic in Asia mainly affects areas of China and India; although, smaller countries, like Cambodia, are also affected. AIDS orphans in Asia live in extremely harsh conditions. The majority of these orphans end up living with their relatives or on the streets. Either way, these orphans live in poverty and are forced to fend for themselves. AIDS orphans, ranging from the ages of eight to fifteen, live in unsanitary conditions, wear heavily used and torn clothing, and do not continue their education past primary school due to lack of funding. Many teenage AIDS orphans leave their hometown for cities in search of a job. Most of them are completely unaware that they have AIDS.
AIDS orphans in Asia are more likely to cause social problems if they do not receive proper care. They are vulnerable to join street gangs, commit criminal acts, or become prostitutes so that they can earn a living. In the end, these economic hardships inflict heavy psychological damage on the orphans. Very often, they will drop out of school because they are unable to pay for tuition and because of social stigma.
Unfortunately, the stigma comes from the fact that many people in Asia do not fully understand how the disease is transmitted. Some people believe that AIDS is curse. Therefore, the majority of society chooses not to help the AIDS orphans. Thus, AIDS orphans in China receive very little support. For example, in Andhra Pradesh, India, a state with a population of 79 million, there is only one orphanage that for 20 orphans.
There are several reasons why the AIDS orphans crisis is so apparent in China and India. First of all, many rural areas of Asia reject humanitarian aid because they are conservative and fear the effect of innovation. Secondly, governments of these affected countries have been slow to respond or simply refuse to. According to survey conducted by China National Committee for the Care of Children in 2003, most local Chinese government officials and non-government organizations were not aware that there were AIDS orphans in their area. Rather than providing aid to these orphans, the Chinese government requests that the community care for them. Humanitarian organizations often criticize the government of India also for not acting to help the situation because their spending on public health is low. Although India is a major producer of cheap generic HIV/AIDS drugs, only a small part of their population can afford them.
Despite the high number of cases of AIDS and AIDS orphans in Asia, the region is still only in its preliminary phase. In fact, the number of people with HIV/AIDS in Asia may eventually surpass that of Africa because a slight increase of people with AIDS will lead a significant increase in AIDS orphans. As the AIDS crisis continues, these AIDS orphans will increasingly depend on humanitarian aid to help them out of their situation.
China AIDS orphans fund – China
This organization was founded in Minnesota, USA, in 2003. Their four main priorities are education for AIDS orphans, humanitarian services to families affected by HIV/AIDS, medical care and training, and foster care and orphanage programs. They raise funds to address the educational needs of AIDS orphans and channel money to the Chi-Heng Foundation and the Fuyang AIDS Orphans Salvation Association.
The Fuyang AIDS Orphans Salvation Association – China
Fuyang AIDS Orphans Salvation Association is organization based in China that provides funding for education, food, and shelter for AIDS orphans in China.
The Chi-Heng Foundation was founded in 1998 in Hong Kong. It has several branches in Henan, Anhui, Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. It is a private organization whose funds come from private donors, businesses, and other non-government organizations. Chi Heng, which means “wisdom of action", moves around China through many villages offering support to all children affected by AIDS. This organization primarily focuses improving education and basic living standards and encourages local relatives to take in the orphans.
HUT AIDS Orphans Education Project - India
Mrs. Renganayaki Rajagopalan and Dr. A. V. Rajagopalan founded the HUT AIDS Orphans Education Project in 1983. HUT helps community members receive their basic needs that include housing, food, healthcare, and education. HUT began by helping HIV-positive victims. They later found that the greatest concern of these victims was their children. From then on, their primary purpose was to provide formal education for AIDS orphans, free of stigma. AIDS orphans are also given psychosocial support and counseling.
Dao Yunxiang (15) from southwest China's Yunnan Province, talks about her suffering as a result of HIV/AIDS.
"My childhood is full of anguish, loneliness and coldness. I dare not think about my future life,"
"I do not know whether I can go on my study,"
Cheng Xiangyang, a farmer from Houyang village of central China's Henan province, started school for AIDS orphans.
"You can not understand how hard it is, but I will not give up these children's rights to live happily."
Helena (18), from Hyderabad, India, lost her father when she was 13 and her mother when she was 15 both to AIDS. She now cares for her two younger brothers who are both HIV-positive.
“When our mother died, we were so scared of being on our own. I remember her telling me to continue to study and make a future for myself and she also told me I had to take care of the little ones for as long as they need me. So I will,"
“When my mother died we suffered so much. There was no food, and there was no one to look after us,"
“Aside from being an AIDS orphan, [the] other most worrying problem we have in our community is hunger. Another is lack of clothes and blankets. Some don’t even have houses. Some even can’t go to school,"
A Human Rights Watch Report
"Doctors have refused to treat and sometimes even touch HIV positive children. Schools have expelled or segregated children because they or their parents are HIV positive."
Sharmila A (10) an AIDS orphan living with HIV
"When I went to school, I sat separately from the other children, in the last mat. I sat alone,"
"The other children wanted to be with me, but the teacher would tell them not to play with me. She said, 'This disease will spread to you also, so do not play with her.' "