Government has established a Child Protection Programme Unit (CPPU) aimed at carrying out operations to rid towns of street kids.

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At an increased risk of HIV and often unable to negotiate safe sex with clients, sex workers have been a major focus in HIV prevention and treatment. However, away from the streets and brothels, their children have been largely ignored.

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The minimum legal age for marriage in Zambia is 18, and parental consent is required if a girl or boy is 16-17. Anyone under 16 is a minor, and defilement of a minor is a serious offence, punishable by imprisonment of up to 25 years.

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Less than one in four Zambian children who should be on life-saving anti-retroviral drugs is receiving them. The country planned to increase the number of children on ARVs from the present 20,000 to 120,000, but inadequate facilities pose a major stumbling block.

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A five-country study by the Southern African AIDS Trust (SAT) in partnership with the Health Economics and AIDS Research Division (HEARD) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal did just that, and the picture that has emerged is more complex than many prevention programmes targeting youth have allowed for.

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When a child loses a parent to HIV/AIDS, grief counselling helps with the trauma of loss, but when the child is both poor and orphaned, the chances of a fulfilling life are significantly diminished.

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About half the babies exposed to HIV may not be getting the antiretroviral (ARV) drugs they need to be born HIV-free and stay that way, say the findings of a four-country study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

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