HIV and Aids in Africa
Africa is the region most affected by HIV and AIDS in the world. Approximately 22.4 million people, which is around two thirds of the global total of people living with HIV, can be found in Sub-Saharan Africa alone.
The spread of AIDS/HIV in Africa, and the resulting death toll, varies between African countries. Somalia and Senegal are the least affected with only 1% of the adult population suffering from HIV. The percentage rises up to 15%– 20% of adults in Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Three southern African countries, namely Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland have an HIV prevalence rate exceeding 20%. In comparison,
HIV and AIDS seems to be less prevalent in West Africa. Some countries, however, are experiencing the rampant spread of HIV. In Nigeria, there are around 2.6 million people affected with HIV.
What mainly causes the prevalence of AIDS/HIV in Africa?
Primarily, there is not enough money to prevent the disease. Prevention methods mainly include education, condom use and testing and counseling. Unfortunately, these methods are rarely available in Africa. Due to a lack of HIV education, the people are unable to understand the implications of their lifestyles and are, thus, unable to change their behavior to stop the spread of the disease.
Consequently, the continuous rise in HIV and AIDS prevalence in Africa has had a dire effect on its society as a whole. First, there is an effect on life expectancy. Millions of people die from AIDS at a young age. Life expectancy in sub-Saharan Africa is now averaging at 47 years. Without AIDS, it could have risen to 62 years.
The AIDS epidemic also has a harsh effect on households. Many families lose their bread winners. Children with parents affected with AIDS end up as orphans, having no choice but to fend for themselves. Similarly, there has also been a dire effect on labor and productivity. This, in turn, negatively impacts economic activity and social progress. Most of the people living with HIV and AIDS are in their late teens to early fifties, which is usually the working class. Employers and institutions have to acquire new staff in order to replace those who have become too sick to work.
Finally, it is hard to ignore the effect on the health sector, because there are a greater number of health care workers affected due to the epidemic.
International support has been provided in order to help Africa in the fight against HIV and AIDS. A prime example is the Global Fund, which was initiated in 2001 and has since collected over US $7 billion to help fight AIDS, TB and Malaria in over 130 countries. Even though this funding has been positively effective in helping Africa, more money is still needed because of the huge scale of the epidemic in the country.
Providing a solution to the HIV and AIDS epidemic in Africa is a long-term task that needs efforts not only from the country itself, but from the international community as well. Africa and its people can only continue to strive and hope for the best.