AIDS in Africa
Research papers on AIDS in Africa illustrate that from the hallowed halls of the Central Intelligence Agency to the doors of the United Nations, the AIDS epidemic in Africa is receiving noteworthy attention within the United States and the entire world. Along with a highly public awakening in presidential administrations, foreign capitals, pharmaceutical companies, and Congress, the AIDS issue, particularly in the sub-Sahara region, has figuratively and literally received “pandemic” attention from key business, political, and medical leaders. However, today’s acknowledgment of this crisis may be too little too late for research and medical technology to save.
AIDS in Africa in the Beginning
Africa is in peril as it witnesses the worst calamity, since the plague in the Middle Ages, to hit its land. According to estimates from UNAIDS, a group representing five U.N. agencies that have monitored the disease’s ravage, over 34.3 million people in the world have AIDS…24.5 million of them in sub-Saharan Africa and nearly 19 million dead from the epidemic. AIDS than any other part of the world has severely affected Sub-Saharan Africa. The U.N. reports that these 24 million infected with the HIV virus include both adults and children and comprise of 10% of the world’s population. Interestingly enough, more than 70% of the worldwide total of AIDS infected people are located in the African region. These countries include Botswana, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.
Factors Leading to the Rise in AIDS in Africa
Research papers unveil that the problem and causes of AIDS, many experts say, is attributed to the following reasons:
- The region’s poverty and their health systems lack of educating the public
- Expensive AIDS (antiretroviral) medicines and research
- An overall socioeconomic culture and environment that forces many men to become migrant workers in urban areas, where they may have multiple sex partners.
Poverty also leads many women to become commercial sex workers, vastly increasing their risk of infection. Culturally, there is shame and stigma associated with AIDS, the consequences that go along with poverty and the ignorance that the villages cannot overcome. AIDS is not merely an infectious disease but a condition of poverty, oppression, urban migration, and social violence. The medical health crisis is also exacerbated by the indifference of leaders who do not view AIDS’ impact on the overall economic and political policies they promulgate.
AIDS will continue to impact Southern Africa in drastic ways for generations to come. Today, the AIDS crisis in Southern Africa is exacerbating and being made even worse by a severe famine that threatens much of the region. Late in 2002, United Nations experts estimated that some 14.4 million people in Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, including at least 5.9 million individuals with HIV/AIDS—were at risk for starvation. Many of the countries in the region are at risk of losing significant portions of their work forces and whole economic sectors may be devastated in the near future. For instance, it is estimated that, because of illnesses and deaths associated with HIV/AIDS, the tiny nation of Swaziland will have to produce and train some 7,000 additional teachers to keep services even at the very lowly standards that existed in 1997. Agricultural production has declined in many parts of Southern Africa because so many HIV/AIDS-afflicted farmers are too ill to work. The United Nations estimates that HIV/AIDS has resulted in a recent 9.6 percent decline in Zimbabwe’s agricultural labor force, while Malawi has lost some recently lost some 5.8 percent of its farmers and Mozambique is expected to lose one-fifth of its farmers by 2020. Some 20 percent of student nurses in South Africa are HIV positive. By one recent estimate, the gross domestic product of South Africa—the economic powerhouse of the Southern African sub-region—will be approximately 8 percent lower by 2010 than it would be without the HIV/AIDS pandemic. It is also expected that HIV/AIDS will drive down South Africa’s per capita consumption by about 12 percent over the same period.
Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the HIV/AIDS crisis in Southern Africa is that some experts believe that the epidemic is still in an early phase. Somehow, this sobering thought makes all the statistics about the disease seem rather meaningless. Southern Africa was the site of some of the earliest human societies. One begins to wonder if it will also be the site of some of humanity’s worst demographic tragedies.