Children affected by HIV and AIDS need both medical and social, economic and psychological support to avoid, survive and overcome HIV and its impacts. A medical response alone is not enough. Children need a combination of support to address their physical, mental, social and emotional needs and to realise their full potential. Only then can children combat AIDS and HIV effectively.

For example, for a child to avoid HIV infection they need positive attitudes and behaviours around HIV, gender and sexuality, which are reinforced by their peers and community; a family with the knowledge and resources to provide for and nurture them; combined with access to quality medical HIV prevention services. Similarly, while quality, locally-available HIV testing and treatment services are vital, for them to be effective an HIV-infected child must also have a knowledgeable parent/carer to help them access and adhere to treatment correctly, provide a loving and stimulating environment for them to grow up in, have funds to attend clinic visits, conduct tests and to eat a healthy diet, and receive support from family, friends, and the local community to cope with the challenges around HIV infection.

Achieving this ‘whole child’ approach will require the HIV sector collaborating with those working on education, poverty reduction, social protection, child protection and other development and humanitarian issues to ensure each child affected by AIDS has the right combination of support to enable them to thrive as well as realise their full potential.


When I had my daughter, I was married and very young. I didn’t have any social or economic support. I relied on my daughter’s father to look after us. That is a problem in places where parents have no money and can’t afford to have food on the table or where there is high unemployment. It perpetuates things like domestic violence and abuse and also affects children’s well-being. Mothers may default on medication or taking their children to clinics for immunizations. There are issues for these children of being looked after properly, getting school uniforms and just having someone care for them
— Florence Ngobeni, Coalition Ambassador


Key Reading:

  • Donor Policy Report: How much funding is going to children and adolescents, where, on what and what are the gaps?
  • Harnessing Social Protection to Reach All Children highlights the winners of the Reaching All Children Challenge, which was launched by the Coalition and ViiV Healthcare’s Positive Action in an effort to gather evidence demonstrating how social protection protects and supports vulnerable children and adolescents in testing, treatment, and care.
  • COVID-19 Policy Briefing: Prioritising Children, Adolescents and Caregivers Affected by HIV in the COVID-19 response.
  • Building Whole Child Resilience: Working together to enable children affected by HIV and AIDS to survive and thrive
  • Where the Heart Is, a seminal Coalition paper, provides details on the impact of psychosocial support services on children affected by HIV and AIDS.
  • Coalition members contributed to the Joint Learning Initiative on Children and HIV/AIDS’ report, Home Truths, which makes the case for an integrated approach to the fight, including a social protection agenda.
  • New research shows how social protection can play a life- saving role in responding to the challenges that HIV brings to children and adolescents.
  • Interventions to improve psychosocial well-being for children affected by HIV and AIDS: a systematic review. 2016
  • Resourcing resilience: social protection for HIV prevention amongst children and adolescents in Eastern and Southern Africa. 2016

Learn more.