Kenya has one of the world’s highest rates of HIV infection, and many children are left orphaned or otherwise vulnerable when their parents die or become sick from AIDS-related causes.
In developing nations, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, HIV and AIDS are great risks to public health. In Kenya, HIV infections and AIDS remain serious health issues, with thousands of parents dying every year from AIDS-related causes, leaving children orphaned and often facing an uncertain future.
Thanks to the intervention of various governments and international health organizations, Kenya has made much progress in terms of reducing the prevalence of HIV and AIDS during the past 20 years, but there is still a long way to go. Data from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) shows that the rate of HIV infection among Kenyans ages 15 to 64 was at approximately 6.3 percent in 2008-09, and UNICEF reports HIV prevalence at 6.2 percent in 2011. With a population of more than 38 million people, Kenya has one of the highest rates of infection in eastern Africa.
Women are more likely to become infected than men, with 8 percent of women reporting infection compared to 4.3 percent of men. Young women between the ages of 15 and 24 are at particular risk and are four times more likely to become infected than young men in this age range.
Another complication faced by international aid organizations is the uneven distribution of reported infection. More than half of Kenyan individuals living with HIV reside in the Nyanza and Rift Valley provinces, placing even greater strain on already limited health care resources.
A Crucial Turning Point
With such high rates of infection, it is little wonder that HIV and AIDS represent one of the greatest threats to not only adult health but also the well-being of Kenyan children. According to UNICEF, more than 1.1 million children were orphaned by HIV or AIDS in 2011.
Prior to 2009, when the Kenyan government introduced new measures to protect children orphaned by AIDS, children received little support following their parents' deaths. However, in the past four years, great strides have been made in supporting and protecting these children. Overall health awareness initiatives such as those operated by ChildFund, USAID and other organizations, have led to declines in the number of AIDS-related deaths across Kenya, which has resulted in fewer children being orphaned or otherwise left vulnerable, according to UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS.
In 2007, more than 21 percent of households caring for children orphaned by AIDS received some form of financial assistance, compared to 14 percent reported in 2005. UNAIDS plans to increase access to financial support for these families, and at present, Kenya is on track to meet its goal of providing help to 40 percent of caregivers for AIDS-orphaned children by the end of the year.
Although the progress reported by UNAIDS is encouraging, millions of children in Kenya lack the assistance they need. To address this problem, ChildFund has been involved in a long-term program to support children whose lives have been affected by HIV and AIDS. In order to meet the terms of a $3.5 million matching grant, we must raise $725,000 by Aug. 31, 2013.
To help us provide the vital support these children need to survive, please consider making a donation to this important fund. Every dollar you donate will be matched with an additional $4.35, making your support go even further. Your generosity will make a huge difference in the lives of children orphaned by AIDS and allow us to help even more children and families affected by this disease.