South Africa is a country full of diversity
It has a population of 50.1 million speaking 11 different official languages. Although it is known for its incredible beauty and wildlife, South Africa has been severely impacted by the devastating HIV/AIDS epidemic. The facts are alarming. It is estimated that in South Africa:
- 5.7 million people were living with HIV and AIDS in 2009* - a number higher than any other country.
- 1/2 of the country's orphans are a result of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.**
- Between 1.5 and 3 million AIDS orphans have one or both parents that are deceased.***
We focus our efforts on one of the least developed areas in South Africa, the Umkhanyakude district, in the KwaZulu-Natal province. This district suffers from:
- One of the HIGHEST HIV INFECTION RATES IN THE WORLD
- Adolescents growing up here have almost a 50% chance of being infected by HIV during their lifetime.
- More than 5% of female high-school students are infected with HIV by the time they graduate - many more will contract other sexually transmitted infections.
- Adolescents receive little education about how to avoid becoming infected, the lifestyle changes necessary if infected and how to avoid unwanted pregnancy.
- High rates of unemployment: 80% of youth in the district are unemployed.
- Malnutrition: Both adult obesity and childhood stunting are common.
- Adolescent pregnancy: Approximately 25% of female high school students will become pregnant before graduation.
- Limited access to clean water: The district still suffers from periodic outbreaks of cholera and other waterborne diseases, including schistosomiasis- a debilitating parasitic infection.
- High rates of gender violence
- Substance abuse