Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is not only a health crisis, but a social crisis that has affected every sector of the United States. The number of persons with AIDS in the United States is staggering, and it continues to multiply. Furthermore, the growing number of individuals infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), the virus that causes AIDS, is even more disturbing. Nobody is immune because AIDS does not discriminate by sexual orientation, gender, race, socioeconomic status or age.
The failure of AIDS to discriminate by age is evident by the growing number of children and adolescents infected by HIV/AIDS. There also are scores of children who are not infected, yet are affected by HIV/AIDS because one or both of their parents, or other family members, have been diagnosed as being HIV positive or having AIDS. In fact, an increasingly large number of children have been orphaned by parents who have died from AIDS. It is estimated that over 80,000 children will have been orphaned by the year 2000 due to parental deaths caused by AIDS. Non-infected children and adolescents also may be affected through their association with peers or significant others who are HIV positive, have AIDS, or who have lost loved ones due to AIDS.