Today’s Solutions: July 01, 2022

Sub-Saharan Africa was hit by an epidemic of HIV, starting from the 1980s. With it came death, resulting in an increase in orphanhood for the children left behind. Studies have associated individuals left in this situation with an increased rate of adverse mental and physical health conditions.

A recent study, from Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, looked at orphanhood rates in Rakai, Uganda, in response to a number of external influences. It was found that orphanhood declined from 2004, corresponding to the availability of antiretroviral therapy (ART) to treat HIV. Another decrease happened also in 2007 when male circumcision increased. This practice reduces the likelihood of contracting an infection from an HIV-positive partner and therefore decreases the transmission rate in the population.

The paper, published in The Lancet HIV,  discussed how orphanhood declined from 52 percent in 2001-2002, to 23 percent in 2016-2018. Plus, double orphanhood decreased from 20 percent to three in this time, which is a huge decrease of 83 percent.

“Our findings suggest that trends in orphanhood were significantly associated with community prevalence of ART use, male circumcision, HIV prevalence, and socioeconomic status,” said John Santelli, lead author of the study. “Our findings emphasize how HIV combination prevention reduces mortality among adults and orphanhood among their adolescent children.”

Source study: The Lancet HIVHIV combination prevention and declining orphanhood among adolescents, Rakai, Uganda, 2001–18: an observational community cohort study

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