Original Paper

AIDS and Behavior

, Volume 10, Issue 6, pp 619-626

Towards a Definition of Orphaned and Vulnerable Children

  • Donald SkinnerAffiliated withSocial Aspects of HIV/AIDS and Public Health (SAHA), Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) Email author 
  • , N. TshekoAffiliated withDept of Education, University of Botswana
  • , S. Mtero-MunyatiAffiliated withNational Institute of Health Research
  • , M. SegwabeAffiliated withDept of Health and Wellness, University of Botswana
  • , P. ChibatamotoAffiliated withBiomedical Research & Training Institute-Centre for International Health and Policy BRTI-CIHP
  • , S. MfecaneAffiliated withSocial Aspects of HIV/AIDS and Public Health (SAHA), Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)
  • , B. ChandiwanaAffiliated withBiomedical Research & Training Institute-Centre for International Health and Policy BRTI-CIHP
  • , N. NkomoAffiliated withSocial Aspects of HIV/AIDS and Public Health (SAHA), Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)
  • , S. TlouAffiliated withMinister of Health
    • , G. ChitiyoAffiliated withBiomedical Research & Training Institute-Centre for International Health and Policy BRTI-CIHP

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Abstract

The HIV epidemic presents challenges including orphans and a large mass of children rendered vulnerable by the epidemic and other societal forces. Focus on orphaned and vulnerable children (OVC) is important, but needs accurate definition. Twelve focus group interviews of service providers, leaders in these communities, OVC and their caretakers were conducted at six project sites across Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe to extend this definition. The loss of a parent through death or desertion is an important aspect of vulnerability. Additional factors leading to vulnerability included severe chronic illness of a parent or caregiver, poverty, hunger, lack of access to services, inadequate clothing or shelter, overcrowding, deficient caretakers, and factors specific to the child, including disability, direct experience of physical or sexual violence, or severe chronic illness. Important questions raised in this research include the long-term implications for the child and community, and the contribution of culture systems.

Key Words

Orphans HIV AIDS Orphaned and vulnerable children Definition Sub-Saharan Africa