Report on colloquium on improving the health of school age children in an era of HIV/AIDS: linking policies, programmes & strategies for the 21st century
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Where previously apartheid limited the prospects of the majority of young people, the main risk today is HIV infection, and it is essential for youth to protect themselves and to reduce the incidence of HIV infection. Amongst many other concerns, the rampant HIV epidemic necessitates the protection of children and young people against the disease itself, and the effects of the family and societal disruption it has caused. During the AIDS epidemic many families have been destroyed or at least weakened in their capacity to provide a safe and secure environment for their children, nourishment and emotional care. These are "fragile families", an anthropologist's description that captures the essence of families that easily break apart when under stress. Institutions in South African society need to be strengthened to support these fragile families. A 3-day colloquium was held to discuss how to improve the health of school-age children in the context of the AIDS epidemic in South Africa.