The socio-economic consequences of the HIV/AIDS epidemic are felt in a growing number of countries and increasing mortality rates among adults are threatening economic and social well-being. This study looks at the status, needs and skills of orphans, especially those orphaned by AIDS and shows that: when a husband dies of AIDS in a family, the mother is also often living with HIV/AIDS and dies shortly thereafter, leaving children as orphans most parents, even if they are aware of their terminal illness, do not attempt to make any alternative living arrangements for their children before their death. As a result, children are left in the household with limited or no resources. As the epidemic spreads, these child-headed households are becoming more and more frequent in rural areas. Children in such conditions are deprived of their childhood and the opportunity to go to school. Economic hardships lead them to look for means of subsistence that increase their vulnerability to HIV infection, substance abuse, child labor, sex work and delinquency.
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