In the autumn of their lives, many South African grandmothers are still in the midst of raising children. HIV/AIDS has taken their sons and daughters, leaving them with the burden of raising their grandchildren. The loss of parents to HIV/AIDS has created 1.9 million orphans in South Africa, and, according to UNICEF, 64 percent of the orphans are being cared for by a grandparent. Most of the families live in poverty either in the rural areas or in the overcrowded townships in big cities. Growing up in an urban township is challenging for any child; neighborhoods are crowded and unemployment is high, along with prostitution, alcohol abuse, poverty, and crime. HIV/AIDS orphans are at even greater risk in these locations, as studies show this traumatized group is quicker to display antisocial behavior. HIV/AIDS orphans also become sexually active younger, thus exposing them to HIV earlier, a destructive cycle that many grandmothers are trying to stop.

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