The AIDS epidemic reached 30 this year and though there has been a huge amount of progress here in the U.S., the story in Africa is a vastly different one. On the continent, women and children are the main victims of the disease with the fastest growth of infection rate now among women and youth. Over 22 million are affected across Africa.
When you see the face of HIV/AIDs in countries like Ethiopia, it is often through the eyes of a child, like the kids I met on a trip to the “transportation corridor” between Addis Ababa, the capital, and the trade hub of Awassa. Here, HIV/AIDs is spread by truckers who infect or are infected by sex workers who in turn infect partners and wives. Parents have died in the thousands, leaving children with grandparents or often as head of the house at the young ages of 11 or 12. Save the Children works in the towns along the highway to keep kids in their communities and provide support, such as access to food, school and extra help that kids without parents desperately need. This empowers communities to take care of their own children who have been devastated by the disease.
I visited with a soccer team made up of 10 and 11 year old boys, all of whom had lost at least one parent to AIDs. One little boy sat and told me how, just a year ago, his Dad never came home one day after being sick. Over the next 12 months, he watched his Mom also die of the disease. After that, some women from the village came to help him and his three