HIV orphanhood research and the representation of older orphans in Sub-Saharan Africa: A literature review


One impact of incurable HIV infection is the large number of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) who are affected by HIV. The age-based criteria used to determine support eligibility for HIV orphans, however, exclude older orphans (>/=18 years of age) from support. We conducted a literature survey in order to explore possible inclusion of older orphans (ages 18-24 years) in HIV orphanhood research. We found 17 studies conducted in eight countries that met the review inclusion criteria. Findings from the review revealed that older HIV orphans are underrepresented in the OVC literature. The emerging, but limited, evidence suggests that older orphans are at risk for poorer psychosocial and reproductive outcomes. We recommend increasing inclusion of older orphans in HIV orphan research because of their complex physical, reproductive, and psychosocial needs. This inclusion is necessary to allow their experiences and needs to become clearer.


Popoola T, Mchunu G.




  • Determinants of Health
    • Stigma/discrimination
  • Population(s)
    • Children or Youth (less than 18 years old)
  • Mental Health
    • Psychiatric disorders


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