South Africa, like all of Africa, is dealing with the effects of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, particularly with what is called the third wave of the epidemic - its social impact. Children bear a considerable part of the brunt of the social impact of HIV and AIDS. It is thus imperative to have well-researched information that can underpin our responses to the plight of children.
The HSRC recognises that very little is known about HIV prevalence rates among children or about the risk factors that predispose them to becoming infected. Therefore we place great importance on investigating these factors with the hope that the impact of HIV/AIDS on children is firmly placed on the region's research and programme agenda. The National Household HIV Prevalence and Risk Survey of South African Children confirms our commitment to investigating not only HIV prevalence among children and what predisposes them to HIV infection, but also the effects of the epidemic on their care and support.
This study forms part of the larger Nelson Mandela/HSRC Study of HIV/AIDS: South African national HIV prevalence, behavioural risks and mass media household survey 2002. The HSRC undertook the study in collaboration with several other research institutions. The results highlight three key issues:
The socio-cultural context; and
Interventions in relation to sexual behaviour and HIV infection.
As with the larger survey, the children's study was motivated by the need to monitor the national response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The study also serves as a baseline for monitoring future changes.