HIV/AIDS is a pandemic in South Africa, and KwaZulu-Natal Province has become the AIDS capital of the world. Of mothers attending pre-natal classes, 46% are HIV positive in the rural areas. In South Africa 6.5 million people out of a total population of 59 million are HIV positive. Sadly, that is 11% of the population. An estimated 3.7 million are AIDS orphans. Only 54% of children who need ART (Anti–Retroviral Treatment) are currently receiving the treatment (UNICEF).
Many initiatives are being developed around palliative care programs. Although, due to the enormity of the problem, it seems little is being done. Research by the Rehoboth Trust has shown that hospitals are housing an increasing number of children with AIDS who cannot be placed back home and therefore remain hospitalized. Nursing staff does not have enough time to provide the necessary attention so the children’s health declines rapidly. Dr. Bill Hardy, Medical Officer at Murchison hospital (a rural district hospital), and others have expressed their concern that, for this specific group of children, nothing is being done.
Dr. Bill Hardy has written: "Most of these infected children lie abandoned in hospital wards for months or even years – where many of them eventually die! I believe Rehoboth’s vision is greatly benefitting the children associated with our local community hospitals. Orphanages in our area are overcrowded and understaffed, and cannot meet the special needs of these ill children. Moreover, there is a reluctance to accept these children into orphanages and house care".