This month Bharathi Ghanashyam reports from India on the necessity for the government to provide support for the increasing number of children affected by HIV/AIDS. It is estimated that in India more than a million children under 15 have lost one or both parents to AIDS.
‘India’s AIDS orphans ‘why is this our fault?’’
By Bharathi Ghanashyam
Anil (11) and Shobha (9) are ecstatic. After incessantly begging their grandmother Susheela to let them take a camel ride, their wish has finally come true. But the ride cost 10 rupees (US 22 cents) and now Susheela is worried the children will have to go without milk for the next three days.
Both Anil and Shobha live in a small town in southern India and have no one in the world except Susheela. When the children were about four and two years old, their father died of suspected AIDS related illness and their mother - unable to bear the shock of his death - committed suicide shortly after. At the age of 65, Susheela is now the sole guardian of the children, both of whom are HIV positive and on antiretroviral therapy (ART).
When little Anil began falling sick shortly after his mother’s death, he was tested for HIV and found to be positive. His sister was tested as a precautionary measure and found to be HIV positive too. Both had low CD4 counts so were immediately started on ART.
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