Burundian AIDS orphans are still facing enormous difficulties

Lack of medicines and means, discrimination, stigma …are some challenges faced by Burundian AIDS orphans. Christelle Kaze, 28, is an AIDS orphan since her third year of birth. She says she faces several challenges since she knew she is living with AIDS ten years after her parent had died. “I felt I was not free and underestimated myself,” she says it on the occasion of the celebration of the World AIDS Orphans’ Day this May 7. Not only was she discriminated at school, she says, but also she was stigmatized by the society.

Ms Kaze says she was supported by her family to overcome the situation. “My family comforts me and also supports me financially,” she says adding that she is the only one to have been tested positive for AIDS out of her four brothers and sisters. She calls on other people to support AIDS orphans to prepare their brighter future.

Audrey Inarukundo, Chairperson for the National Network of Young People Living with HIV- RNJ+ says relatives often hamper their future. She says their relatives often usurp the belongings left by their parents. “They want to profit from our belongings,” she says adding that AIDS orphans often give up studies because they are forced to become heads of households due to the lack of school materials and education fees. “Hunger also affects them while they are on HIV treatment,” she deplores.

Inarukundo exhorts the government to protect AIDS orphans and their belongings. “Orphans are like so many other children; they need to be supported and shouldn’t be victims of discrimination and stigma,” she says.

According to the survey conducted in 2015, Burundi has more than 800,000 orphans and the majority of them are AIDS orphans. “99% of RNJ + members are AIDS orphans,” concluded Inarukundo.

Fleury Patience NKENJARARE 

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