PEPFAR and Orphans and Vulnerable Children: Supporting Children, Investing in Our Future

May 20, 2013



“With its explicit focus on orphans and vulnerable children, PEPFAR has elevated attention to and investment in meeting the needs of this population through programs and services that are informed by evidence.”

– Evaluation of PEPFAR, Institute of Medicine, 2013


Programs addressing orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) are central to achieving an AIDS-free generation and preventing child deaths and vulnerability.

Worldwide, over 16 million children are living without one or both parents due to AIDS. Millions more children are increasingly vulnerable because of chronically ill parents and because their families suffer from the social and economic effects of living in high HIV prevalence communities. These children are at higher risk of being infected with HIV themselves. Without OVC programs, these children would be forgotten and their lives – and futures - would be put in jeopardy. 



Empower families through access to health care, improving parenting skills and economic strengthening to fulfill their role as primary caregivers of children

Support communities to create protective, caring environments for children

Build capacity of social service systems to care for the most vulnerable


PEPFAR OVC programs:

  • Respond directly to the economic, educational, psychosocial, and protection needs of children and their families while ensuring access to quality health care services

  • Protect children from HIV/AIDS and other risks to their development and well-being

  • Work directly with families, communities, national social service systems, and governments to strengthen national
    capacity for OVC service delivery, as well as HIV treatment and prevention services


PEPFAR’s Commitment to OVC

PEPFAR contributes 10% of all program funds to efforts that serve children in adversity in contexts affected by HIV. PEPFAR OVC Programs have benefitted nearly five million children worldwide in 2012 alone.

These programs have helped:

  • Keep children in school

  • Maintain children in stable, supportive, and caring family and social environments

  • Empower families to provide for the essential needs of children in their care through money management interventions,
    parenting skills, and income promotion

  • Keep children safe by working with governments to promote child welfare initiatives and systems strengthening, including prevention of child abuse and gender-based violence, and social protection

  • Reduce barriers to health and nutrition services

  • Support legal rights to ensure access to essential services and opportunities

  • Respond to the specific, and sometimes different, needs and vulnerabilities of boys and girls

  • Through all of the above, contribute to the outcomes included in the U.S. Government Action Plan for Children in Adversity
    (For additional information on PEPFAR and the U.S. Government Action Plan for Children in Adversity, please visit this page.)



 In South Africa, 75+ response centers have been established, serving over 30,000 survivors of abuse, including gender-based
violence, with victims as young as four-years of age.

 In Uganda, 1,150 Community Development Officers and probation officers have completed training with University accredited
qualification in child protection, serving 66,000 vulnerable children.

 In Zimbabwe, one PEPFAR OVC program supported more than 51,000 children affected by AIDS with tuition assistance and 222,000 with school health assessments, including referrals for testing.


PEPFAR programs promote resilience in children, families and the broader society by reducing adversity and building services and
systems that reach people DIRECTLY in their households and communities.

In July 2012, PEPFAR issued new guidance for its OVC programs. This guidance will advance the goal of building on existing PEPFAR supported platforms to help more orphans and vulnerable children.

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