Generation of Orphans

South Africa's AIDS epidemic forces grandmothers to parent again

One night in 2003, Agnes Dlamini woke to the sound of her infant grandson crying. His mother--Dlamini's daughter-in-law--had died after a long illness. The baby was left on top of her emaciated body, sucking helplessly at his mother's lifeless breast.

That tragedy, Dlamini now knows, is the result of South Africa's failure to address the spread of HIV. But back then, she had no idea. At the time, the country's President Thabo Mbeki was sympathetic to AIDS denialists. His Minister of Health was nicknamed Dr. Beetroot for championing the plant as a treatment for HIV/AIDS. Antiretroviral drugs weren't available until 2004...

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