World AIDS Orphans Day Date in the current year: May 7, 2024

World AIDS Orphans Day World AIDS Orphans Day is observed annually on May 7. It is a grassroots campaign that aims to draw attention to millions of children orphaned by AIDS and advocate on their behalf.

An AIDS orphan is a child orphaned because one or both parents died from AIDS. For statistical purposes, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) use this term for a child whose mother has died from AIDS before their 15th birthday, regardless of whether the father is still alive. Based on this definition, an estimated 80% of AIDS orphans still have one living parent.

In the early days of the AIDS pandemic, the term AIDS orphan was applied only to children who had lost both parents. However, even if it is the loss of just one parent, the consequences for the child are still massive. In many cases, the remaining parent – the sole breadwinner and caretaker – is also infected with HIV. In the least developed countries and marginalized communities, it is often just a matter of time when the second parent succumbs to the disease as well, and their child is left without food, shelter, education, or protection.

According to Our World in Data, nearly 14 million children aged 17 or under have been orphaned by the death of one or both parents due to HIV/AIDS as of 2022. Most of them live in Sub-Saharan Africa; countries with the highest number of AIDS orphans are Botswana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zambia. Many of them have been infected with HIV through mother-to-child transmission, i.e. during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding, but they don’t have access to HIV testing and treatment.

The history of World AIDS Orphans Day can be traced to a 2002 demonstration on Wall Street, in the heart of New York City’s financial district, where activists carried signs reading: “What is the value of an orphan on the New York stock exchange?” Its main goal was to draw public attention to the fact that millions of children worldwide had lost one or both parents to the AIDS pandemic.

Soon after, the World AIDS Orphans Day campaign was launched by Countess Albina du Boisrouvray through her NGO FXB International that provides support for vulnerable communities affected by AIDS and poverty. Du Boisrouvray presented UN Secretary General Kofi Annan with a dossier containing two million signatures, calling for international organizations and national governments to protect the fundamental rights of HIV-positive children from around the globe and more than 15 million children orphaned by AIDS.

As of 2024, the official website of World AIDS Orphans Day has gone defunct and its Facebook page has been inactive since 2011. However, the campaign is still supported and promoted by charitable organizations and charitable individuals around the globe. You can get involved with World AIDS Orphans Day by donating to or volunteering at a nonprofit that helps children affected by HIV/AIDS and spreading the word on social media with the hashtag #WorldAIDSOrphansDay.

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World AIDS Orphans Day, international observances, awareness campaigns, AIDS orphans, AIDS pandemic