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Parents of persons with AIDS: unrecognized contributions and unmet needs

Publication Abstract

Knodel, John E. 2006. "Parents of persons with AIDS: unrecognized contributions and unmet needs." Global Ageing: Issues and Action, 4(2): 46-55.

The global AIDS epidemic is well into its third decade with over 25 million deaths attributed to it. Another 40 million persons are currently infected. The impact of the epidemic, however, extends well beyond those infected with the virus. Family members are particularly vulnerable and may be adversely affected emotionally, economically, socially, and physically. Most who become infected and die are in their adult ages. Much attention has been directed at the plight of AIDS orphans, the young children left behind. Most adults with AIDS also have parents who, typically, are approaching or already in their older years, and who can be profoundly affected by their adult child's illness and death. Yet these AIDS parents--the mothers and fathers of AIDS victims--are largely absent in the discourse about the epidemic, other than as grandparents who foster AIDS orphans. Only belatedly is recognition starting to extend to their contribution to the home-based care of their terminally ill adult sons and daughters, especially in the developing world--partly a result of being highlighted at the United Nations Second World Assembly on Ageing in 2002. Still, with the noteworthy exception of HelpAge International, major organizations as well as national governments continue to ignore both the contribution and needs of older persons in relation to AIDS. Their low profile in the public discussion about the AIDS epidemic perpetuates the mistaken impression that older persons are largely outside its reach. (excerpt)

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