HIV/AIDS remains the leading cause of death among Zambian adults between the ages of 15-59 years, with a higher infection rate in women than in men. In 2018, roughly 14.9 million children under the age of 18 had lost one or both parents to AIDS. This epidemic puts children at risk physically, emotionally, and economically; oftentimes leaving them vulnerable, orphaned, and threatens their survival. In most affected countries in this region children are missing out on what they need for survival, growth and development, and progress on key national development goals are jeopardized.
In Zambia, 20 percent of all children were orphans in 2005, over half of them due to AIDS, leaving a population of 11.7 million to support more than 1.2 million orphans. Some studies have shown the vulnerable and orphaned children are at higher risk of missing out on schooling, living in households with less food security, suffering anxiety and depression, and are at a higher risk of exposure to HIV. About one sixth of Zambian adults are currently infected with HIV and only around 25 percent of those in need receiving antiretroviral therapy. With these statistics, AIDS will continue to kill parents – it took the lives of around 75,000 adults in 2005 – and increased orphan prevalence for years to come. Currently, the median age of Zambians is only 16.9 due largely to the high death toll as a result of the AIDS epidemic.
Unfortunately, the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Zambia will continue to be a hindrance on the economy and the children of Zambia.