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The challenge of protecting the rights of children affected by HIV/AIDS is far from unique to Kenya, and this research could have been conducted in any one of a number of African countries. Kenya was chosen partly because of the presence of a network of NGOs providing services to AIDS-affected children the staff members of which were generous enough to share their expertise with us, but also because the problem of children affected by AIDS has not figured as prominently in AIDS policy statements by the government as in many other countries.

Human Rights Watch conducted research for this report in Kenya in February and March 2001. For purposes of this work, we defined AIDS-affected children as those having a parent or guardian living with AIDS, those having lost a parent or guardian to AIDS, those living in households fostering children orphaned by AIDS, and those who were themselves living with AIDS.9 Because AIDS is rarely noted as a cause of death on death certificates and many of those living with the disease have not been tested for HIV or have not had test results communicated to them, it was necessary to work through intermediaries who knew the families well enough to know whether AIDS was a feature of their situation. The organizations that assisted us in this way were local NGOs that provide services to children in need of special protection or to families affected by AIDS.

Organizations identified families affected by AIDS, particularly those where children had been orphaned, and then further identified those where a child, parent, or guardian would be willing to talk about the impact of AIDS on the child. The population interviewed cannot be considered completely representative of the population of AIDS-affected families in Kenya because of its contact with service-providing organizations, but the bias is likely to be such that the general population of AIDS-affected children is in even worse circumstances than those of the families we encountered.

We interviewed twenty-six AIDS-affected children and young adults or their guardians. Among others interviewed as NGO, education or legal experts, four persons were also guardians of children orphaned by AIDS and made some remarks in that capacity. Either one or two Human Rights Watch researchers conducted the interviews, mostly in the homes of affected families. One youth group was interviewed as a group. All interviews covered a few topics determined in advance based on prior reports of the impact of AIDS on children. Organizations discouraged us from using translators unknown to the family. A social worker or other staff member of the organization accompanying us therefore provided the translations in most cases. This person was generally known to the family. Most of the interviews were conducted in Nyanza Province (Kisumu town, Siaya, and Rachuonyo), with six in Nairobi and two in Central Province. A few of the interviews were conducted in English but most were in Luo (in Nyanza Province) or Kikuyu. We also spoke with thirty-two experts from the legal and judicial communities, researchers, nongovernmental organization service providers, teachers, school administrators, and U.N. officials. These interviews were open-ended and generally wide-ranging in topic. We also reviewed journalistic accounts, NGO reports, and published and unpublished studies from many sources.

9 The Convention on the Rights of the Child defines children as "Every human being under the age of eighteen years unless, under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier." Convention on the Rights of the Child, art.1, G.A. Res. 44/25, annex, 44 U.N. GAOR Supp. (No.49) at 167, U.N. Doc. A/44/49 (1989). We also used this definition, though some young adults were interviewed about how they were affected by AIDS as children.

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