South Africa has seen a rapid increase in HIV prevalence among the general population over the past ten years, from less than 1 percent in 1990 to 20 percent in 2001. As the HIV/AIDS epidemic increases, so do the number of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC). In 2002, an estimated five million people were living with HIV/AIDS. Because of the average 10-year period between infection and death, even if HIV prevalence declined rapidly, South Africa would still experience an increasing orphan burden for many years to come. By 2010, 16 percent of all children in South Africa will be orphans with more than 70 percent due to AIDS. The Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund initiated the Goelama Project, which uses a community mobilization strategy to catalyze action by local organizations and government bodies to prevent HIV infection and mitigate the socioeconomic impacts of the disease, particularly as they affect OVC. This brief highlights key findings from a study of 29,000 members of nearly 5,000 households in eight study sites to identify ways that government and communities can strengthen the socioeconomic capacity of households to care for and support OVC.
"Challenges faced by households in caring for orphans and vulnerable children," Horizons Research Update. Washington, DC: Population Council, 2004.