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Malawi is facing a severe HIV/AIDS Pandemic. With an estimated prevalence rate of 14.2%, it ranks eight in the world. About 900,000 Malawians were infected by 2003 and there were110,000 new infections and 87,000 deaths due to HIV/AIDS in 2003. The disease has poten tially devastating impacts. For example, 'taking children out of school' is mentioned as one of the coping mechanisms (Garbus 2003) but evidence is mixed. Doctor (2004) found no statistically significant difference between enrollment of orphans and non-orphans and mentioned an effective extended family structure as explanation. However, HIV/AIDS, poverty, macroeconomic policies, and food shortages are reported to render informal safety networks of the extended family systems irrelevant (Garbus 2003). Some evidence seems to point in this direction (Nankhuni 2005). This research shows that adolescents who are orphaned and those who do not live with their parents are less likely to attend school, spend less hours on school work but more hours on domestic and paid work. Children in households that have adults with chronic illnesses that are associated with HIV/AIDS symptoms are also more likely to be absent from school and spend more hours on d omestic and paid work. These results suggest that HIV/AIDS contributes to low investments in children in Malawi. The results also suggest that the extended family system is weakening due to pressure from increased number of orphans and the low economic status of most Malawians since even parents that are living foster out their children and these children do worse than orphaned children.


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