The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child advocates for the provision of programs and services that will promote early health, development and well-being of children and their caregivers. This is particularly important given that current statistics indicate that “a quarter of the world’s youngest children suffer one or more forms of severe deprivation and risk, such as poverty, disease, disability and exposure to violence.”1 Children infected or affected by AIDS are at a distinct disadvantage, especially with regards to education, nutrition, health, safety, and development. As these children are less likely to have their basic needs met, they are more likely to be sick or malnourished, suffer psychological trauma, endure abuse, and become HIV positive. Furthermore, young children are especially vul-nerable to the effects of HIV and AIDS, given the critical importance of the first five years of life in brain development and in providing the foundations for lifelong development. Ultimately, children affected by HIV and AIDS (CABA) are less able to reach their potential as pro-ductive members of society than other children and are more likely to perpetuate the cycle of illness and poverty. Moreover, as the HIV pandemic puts great strains on the existing community based safety net responses, it is essential to build family resiliency through approaches that boost household ability to recover from shocks (e.g. illness, loss of income, etc), improve ability to cope even in the event of shocks and support, thereby strengthening the first line of response in order to build a safe and nurturing home environment. Although most countries with a high prevalence of HIV and AIDS have national strategies in place to support CABA, there are few programs designed specifically to meet the special needs of children under five. Therefore, as researchers and program implementers uncover more evidence of the long term consequences of HIV/AIDS on children, new approaches are urgently needed.

Resource preview