Letter: The Aids orphans

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Your report on the impact of Aids on the children of Zambia ("A nation of orphans where one in five adults has HIV", 27 July) asserts that new attitudes towards prevention are coming too late to stop the progress of the disease. It would be easy to dismiss Aids awareness-raising initiatives, but community education is still the best weapon we have in the fight to prevent the spread of the disease across Africa.

In Kenya, where one in six adults will die of Aids, Plan has found that the support of the community is crucial if the children left behind are to face a more optimistic future. These children have been traumatised by the sickness and death of their parents, and often have sole responsibility for caring for their siblings.

Community programmes, such as drop-in centres and visiting health workers, play an enormous role in providing both emotional and practical help. More than this, community involvement to increase understanding of Aids and how it is spread can reduce the stigma surrounding the disease.

Information and training at grass-roots level - for example at school - ensures that Aids orphans are integrated into their communities, and not ostracised by them. Without such education, the chances of halting the devastation caused by the pandemic seem slim.


Chief Executive

Plan International UK

London NW1