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World AIDS Conference: Orphans a Forgotten Product of AIDS

Aired July 13, 2000 - 2:37 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDRIA HALL, CNN ANCHOR: Turning now to global health news, a new report being presented at the 13th International AIDS Conference shows troubling figures on the impact of AIDS and orphans. This week alone, 40,000 Africans are expected to die from the disease. Many of them will leave behind children. Over the next decade, 44 million children could lose at least one parent to HIV.

CNN's Charlayne Hunter-Gault now, on the numbers which paint a distressing picture for many children.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Staggering numbers from the experts, warning of a social nightmare.

SUSAN HUNTER, US AID: Infection levels like this imply crushing social and economic burdens that effect households, communities and governments.

HUNTER-GAULT: But the most compelling message came from an 11- year-old, HIV positive, AIDS orphan.

NKOSI JOHNSON, AIDS ORPHAN: I am a very lucky little boy, and I'm living with a foster family. But I am strong and healthy, and that's what I just want all the other orphans to have.

HUNTER-GAULT: But only a few miles away, Nkosi's dream seems far away. Here, one of the few orphanages in the country struggles to provide for a handful AIDS orphans, now numbering in the hundreds of thousands, these singing: "Our parents left us when we were young. They left us in sorrow. You should be thankful if you still have a mother."

The majority of AIDS orphans here in Kwazulu, Natal are living in extended families now stretched to their limits, or living alone with no adults around.

(on camera): Aid officials say that AIDS will continue to create millions of orphans for decades, with high potential for social unrest and instability. But activists and experts all agree that urgent intervention is needed, and that there's no quick fix to what is a long-term problem.

(voice-over): Grace Mnguni believes orphaned children should remain in the community, but...

GRACE MNGUNI, AFXB FOUNDATION: We have a problem in South Africa, for example that we have a high number of unemployment. So if I want to take care of a child, the first question I'm going to ask myself is: How am I going to clothe that child? how am I going to feed that child?

HUNTER-GAULT: Heather Reynolds, who runs this orphanage, doubts that she and others who take care of AIDS orphans can go the distance without the kind of dramatic increase in support called for Thursday at the AIDS conference. But for now...

HEATHER REYNOLDS, GOD'S ACRE ORPHANAGE: The children are loved, they are not little orphans anymore. They have got their home and they have got people who love them here.

HUNTER-GAULT: Charlayne Hunter-Gault, CNN, Kwazulu, Natal, South Africa.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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