The 13th International AIDS Conference held in Durban, South Africa has helped to raise international attention to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. A report by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) states that the AIDS virus would orphan 30.2 million children in sub-Sahara Africa. The USAID report indicates a 10 million increase in orphans from the numbers provide by a recent United Nations Children’s Fund Report (UNICEF). USAID states that its number is higher than UNICEF’s because of estimates including children who lose either a mother or father or both.
Research shows that there are currently 16 million children who have lost at least one parent because of HIV/AIDS and 90 percent of those children are located in sub-Sahara Africa. UNICEF reports that the HIV/AIDS epidemic is particular threat to the lives of girls with teenage girls being infected at a rate 50% higher than that of boys.
Protecting women and girls from the HIV/AIDS epidemic is difficult due to the ongoing challenges to women’s access to reproductive healthcare and stereotypical attitudes brought on by traditional cultures that do not encourage the use of condoms. Medical scientists have been researching microbiocides that would kill HIV in the vagina as a method to help women protect themselves form the virus in lieu of cultural attitudes.