Though significant progress has been made in the fight against HIV/AIDS globally, as well as in Africa, the disease continues to ravage communities where factors like poverty, social stigma, and lack of access to condoms mean an increased risk for not only contraction, but also in the number of those who do not seek testing or subsequent treatment once diagnosed. In working with widows and with orphans, ACT and its partners are keenly aware of the toll that HIV/AIDS continues to take.
Worldwide, the percentage of new diagnoses of HIV/AIDS has fallen across much of the globe, including in Africa. Greater access to preventative aids including condoms and, more recently, PReP, coupled with greater education and more testing, have led to a decline to 1.8 million new infections in 2016, down from 2.1 million the year previous. However, organisations like UNAIDS continue to warn that progress in preventing new cases of HIV/AIDS is not moving fast enough to meet global targets. Indeed, there is still a great deal of work to be done.
Much of that work is needed in the 8 African countries where ACT works and centres on populations that we assists – widows and orphans. Out of the 34 million of people HIV positive across the world, 69% live in sub-Saharan Africa, a staggering 24 million people and the disease is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people each year in the countries where we operate, leaving many families shattered and unable to progress the social ladder. Further, young people, and, in particular, young women are as vulnerable as many segments of the adult populace, while young girls are also often tasked with serving as caregiver to any adults who may have contracted the disease in their family, thereby putting the girls at risk due to lack of proper training.
HIV/AIDS does not just infect a single body once diagnosed – it buries itself within families and entire communities, helping to perpetuate the cycle of the disease through a lack of education. ACT is committed to breaking this cycle by working with its partners to ensure that HIV/AIDS is not a roadblock to personal growth through education; that sexual health is taught to teens and adults (just 56% of sexually active girls knew that condom usage significantly lowered the risk of infection); and that caregivers are not excluded from their education. Sadly many have been left parentless due to HIV/AIDS.
In Tanzania alone, 1.3 million children, roughly the total population of many major cities in the world have been orphaned as a result of this pandemic. Kagera region in north western Tanzania has the highest number of orphans in the country. It borders with Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda, countries which have had huge outbreaks of HIV. The refugee inflows from Burundi and Rwanda during the unrests in the 1980s have no doubt contributed to the problems in Kagera.
The Angels Orphanage, Rulenge in Kagera, Tanzania was established to provide refugee for the babies born in the region and with no parent to care for them. The orphanage has reached its capacity of 66 children and is in need of expansion to cope with the increasing demand. It is in every global citizen’s interest to see an end to HIV/AIDS wherever it is. We are supporting the Angels Orphanage in their effort to put up a new building to accommodate more children and we need your help. Join us in the fight by supporting our Angel orphanage Appeal.
If you would like to help the Angels Orphanage Kagera, click here.
If you would like to support a vulnerable child in Africa, click here.