HIV/AIDS is one of the most rampant diseases in the world today. It is transmissible through bodily fluid and can be spread through intercourse, exchange of bodily fluids or from mother to child through breast milk or from childbirth. 69% of all people who have AIDS in the world live in Africa.
HIV/AIDS in South Africa
South Africa has the largest amount of people infected with HIV/AIDS. In 2007, about 12% of South Africa’s population suffered from AIDS. In 2010, 280,000 people died from AIDS in one year alone. Almost half of the deaths that occurred in 2010 in South Africa were AIDS related. AIDS in teenagers in South Africa has gone down in the past years. People in Africa develop AIDS due to the lack of medical treatment and availability of medicines. Earliest origins of AIDS are said to come from West Africa. It is hypothesized that AIDS originated in chimpanzees, mutated and then was transferrable to humans.
Prevention of AIDS
The best way to prevent AIDS is to know the facts about how the disease is spread. Female circumcisions are blamed for the spread of AIDS due to blood contact. Some people are suspicious of Western medicine and reject their help or information. Some are not able to treat the disease due to low funds but assistance from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS helps out tremendously. Even in African countries with superior medical facilities, the drugs to treat AIDS are expensive. While there are patents for many medicines to treat AIDS, these patents have blocked the way for production of lower cost drugs.
Treatment of AIDS
Some drug companies test their AIDS medicine on African subjects but once the drug is approved, the African people are not able to gain access to them. Scientists in South Africa and America have combined forces to create the AIDS gel which is about 40% effective for women. Soon this drug will be available in Africa and other countries. A little under half of the cases of AIDS in Africa are caused by unsafe medical practices with a low percentage from unsafe sexual practices. North Africa has lowest rates of HIV/AIDS in the world. This is probably due to the nation’s large population of Islamic residents.
In 2009, it was reported that HIV rates were less than 1% in Egypt, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. The Horn of Africa also has a low rate of HIV infected people which is also due to the high Muslim population. Central and Eastern Africa have a more liberal approach to extra-marital sex. The HIV rates here are moderate. West Africa has high numbers of people infected with HIV. Nigeria is second highest in Africa. The main cause of infection is believed to be caused by commercial sex. In Ghana’s capital, Accra, over 2/3 of men infected with HIV was from women who sold sex. Swaziland has an HIV infection rate of 26% in adults with half of the infected being adults in their 20s.
AIDS Outlook for Africa
The widespread effect of HIV in Swaziland threatens their economy as well as their countries’ future. The life expectancy of Swaziland is 32 years old. HIV is not the only threat to Sub-Saharan Africans. The spread of tuberculosis to those with HIV takes an unprecedented toll on populations. Tuberculosis is not only spread among those infected with HIV, it is also spread to healthy neighbors. Prevention campaign uses the slogan ABC: Abstinence, be faithful, use a condom. One of the main problems is that many African countries have “HIV fatigue”, which is to say they are tired of hearing about the disease. In Botswana, the Ministry of Education is looking to add HIV/AIDS educational technology to all of the schools. TeachAIDS, developed by Stanford University, is a type of prevention software and will be distributed to every level of education in Botswana.
Countries Most Affected by AIDS
The countries that have 15% or more of its population that are infected with HIV/AIDS are South Africa, Swaziland, Mozambique, Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe. In South Africa, AIDS is more common in women who are under 40 years old. About 4 in 5 women who have AIDS are between the ages of 20 and 25. More and more teenagers are using condoms to prevent the spread of AIDS. Young adults also know more about HIV/AIDS than do their 50 or more year old counterparts.
Poor Treatment Facilities
Early in July of 2012, the Tsepong AIDS Clinic in Lesotho, South Africa closed. Those who depended on the clinic will have to relocate to Motebang Hospital where there is minimal care provided and only one doctor. The clinic was owned by Canadians and due to the economic downturn, was forced to hand over the clinic to the country. Lesotho is a country in poverty and could not keep up with the operating costs. In a July 2012 report released by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, it was stated that HIV infections have decreased, especially in girls aged 15 to 24 years old. In 2011, AIDS infections dropped 25% in 22 Sub-Saharan countries.
Future of AIDS in Africa
As of data from July 2011, Swaziland has the highest percentage of young adults affected with HIV/AIDS which is between 25% and 27%. South Africa has about 18% of young adults living with AIDS out of 5.6 million people living with the disease. If a woman who has HIV is pregnant, there is 20 to 45% chance that she could pass it on to her baby. The most important way to help out with the prevention of HIV/AIDS in Africa is to contribute funds. These funds will go to awareness and prevention campaigns as well as to help care for those living with AIDS. Eliminating the stigma of AIDS is also another way to help those with AIDS get tested. Many do not get tested or treated for fear of discrimination.
The fight for prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS in Africa has been a long and winding struggle. With more funding and awareness, the spread of HIV/AIDS can be curtailed. Prevention and knowledge are the two keys to help prevent the spread of AIDS.