HIV/AIDS has been named a global epidemic with its toll being felt significantly especially in Africa. It has been a major cause of death in the world; it also continues to be a public health concern. It poses a risk to future generations with villages being wiped out due to its impacts (Iliffe, p.47). The most affected generation being the most active age group leaving the elderly and aged to look after the young. Widows and orphans have been a major occurrence in many villages and they struggle through thick and thin to survive the impacts of HIV (Shah, para.3).
Statistics have proved that Africa has been most affected with the situation being aggravated by the poverty levels in the continent. The statistics from the World Health Organization have shown that 34.3 million people in the globe have the AIDS virus and of the 34.3 million 24.5 million live in the Sub Saharan Africa. This means that majority of the people with HIV live in Africa (Shah, para.6; (UNAIDS, 2006). Practically 19 million people have died from the deadly AIDS virus with 3.8 million of dead being children who are under the age of 15. To add insult to injury 5.4 million HIV global cases were recorded in 1999 with 4 million occurring in Africa. This means that people continue to get infected more. Statistics of 1999 indicate that of the 2.8 million deaths caused by AIDS, 2.4 million were recorded in Africa (Shah, para.7). The effects continue to bite with people being infected and affected by the impacts of the HIV virus (UNAIDS, 2006).
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Children bear the largest blunt of the problem when they are left as orphans to take care of themselves; of the 13.2 million children orphaned globally 12.1 million are in Africa (Shah, para.8). This gives the plight of the children. Children are also infected through parent children transition due to lack of proper health care and inadequate advice. Children are left to care for their young siblings and more they have to care for their ailing parents (UNAIDS, 2006). They are either forced to drop out of school and engage in child labor to be able to provide for those depending on them. The girls are forced to participate in degrading activities such as prostitution so that they are able to provide for the others and themselves. The opportunistic infections have continued to make the people spend so much money in treating them without knowing they have the virus (Shah, para.12). For example tuberculosis has been a main infection which infected people struggle to heal.
The stigma from family members and society also continue to be a major problem since they are left to struggle on their own to earn a living and provide for the medicines and diets. The family cast them out on grounds that they are bewitched which means they are not fit to be in society they are condemned to die which contributes to more problems in society (Fourie, 54). The medications have also been so expensive to buy for the people infected; the antiretroviral medications are unaffordable and un available to many so that they may be able to lead a normal life. In addition they are supposed to feed on a very rich diet which is a must for them to be able to live properly. However the food is unavailable and unaffordable to most individuals who have to toil day and night to earn a living. Most of the people in Africa live below the poverty line with millions living below a dollar a day (Iliffe, p.52).
The behavior change has also contributed to an increase in the disease where odd and unwelcoming behavior such as wife inheritance contributing to the spread of AIDS.
Political will has also not been present since they have continued to watch the menace rip off the citizens without committing themselves to action. The governments have remained under debt from the international donors in that they canââ‚¬â„¢t have anymore to spare for the national disasters. The countries rely on donors, international organizations such as World Health Organization, UNICEF and UNAIDS and well wisher for any help they can get to combat the disease and its effects (Iliffe, p.89). Some after getting the money they squander it with other expenses while corruption swindle the rest. Orphans, widows and people affected and infected by the disease are left at the mercy of the cruel disease. Medicines are channeled to untargeted areas and sold at higher prices making it very impossible for the individuals that are to benefit in the streets (Shah, para.10).
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HIV/AIDS has been a great hindrance to development since it has affected the peopleââ‚¬â„¢s productivity and even the continent has lost so many resourceful people who would have contributed to its development. On the other hand the numerous amounts of money channeled towards the disease could have been channeled to other development activities.
The effects of the AIDS virus have made it more problematic to fight poverty, promote development, and progress health. The individuals are no able to work to either support themselves or their families; they also spend the amount they earn in treatment and health care rather than meet household costs (Iliffe, p.68). There is also a crisis in the socioeconomic and gender disparities; making women at high risk of infections and therefore cannot be able to provide for their families. The children are also affected by the illness of their parents or their death; the children dropout resulting to social breakdown.
Life expectancy has reduced with the average life expectancy being below 50 years this has affected the social systems and people in general. There has been high child mortality, and more deaths on the youths aged 20-49 (Shah, para.12). This impact transmits to the future where the society will have imbalanced settings (Iliffe, p.91). In conclusion the effects of HIV/AIDS in Africa range from the health sector, households, the education sector, on children, enterprises and the workplace, on the economy and on life expectancy. All the impacts are all negative and much should be done to stem and control this effects.
For every problem there must be a solution. In Africa AIDS has continued to weigh down on the many progresses made and with a combined effort the impacts of the virus can be reduced and tamed down. The fight against AIDS has been fought through a very renowned campaign known as the ABC of AIDS. To African people this is the one solution that can help kick out the virus from the continent. A is for abstinence, B is for being faithful and C is for using Condom. The ABC is another form of telling the people of Africa to change their sexual behaviors lest they die (Hunter, p.39).
Behavior change can be cultivated through numerous campaigns that will help people leave their sexual life and make it more responsible. Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT) has also been developed to make people know their HIV status (Hunter, p.41). This will make them be more responsible in their actions in view of the fact that those who are not yet positive will strive to remain negative while those who are positive will reduce re-infections to unsuspecting individuals. With such measures the rate of new infection will be drastically reduced and hence there will be only the old cases to deal with.
The culture that increases infections such as wife inheritance will be campaigned against where they will have to abandon such practices and ensure if they have to then the necessary precautions are taken.
Government also has a huge role to play in the fight against AIDS this is because they have to layout a strategy that make the people with and those without the virus protected so that they can be more productive (Hunter, p.53). This will include firstly cleaning up their own closet through eliminating corruption by removing all corrupt official who swindle money intended for this worthy cause (Cichocki, para.5). This will play part to making sure everything planned goes according to plan with all the monies being put to purposeful use.
In addition, the government has the mandate of working with NGO and other donor organization to provide care to the AIDS patients. This will include making the ARV available to them so that they are able to live a longer fulfilling life (Cichocki, para.6). The medication should be made available to the people at very affordable prices or even for free so that the people may be productive and be able to support their families and continue earning a livelihood.
Money should also be provided in order to take care of the affected children who are either orphaned or infected by the disease. Such care will give hope to society in that the children will be able to access proper care and facilities such as education which will make them build their lives better in future (Cichocki, para.13). The widow left will also need care and support in that they need to be assisted in providing for their families so that they can be able to live a positive life. Those infected will also need to be given medication since they may not be able to purchase drugs from their livelihoods.
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If the government is able to care for the infected and affected they will help a lot in the containing of the situations since many people will live positively in life and will be able show other how to be positive when one is HIV positive.
Mother to child transitions should also be minimized this will be through providing proper and adequate medical care to the mothers and giving the appropriate advice when the mothers are pregnant (Hunter, p.68). Campaigns that will be targeted to pregnant mother to know their status will enable discover the number of cases and their spouses and save the unborn child from contracting the HIV virus. Measures such as not breast feeding for the mothers with HIV will be advised where they will be provided with the appropriate milk and dietary food to feed the child (Hunter, p.92).
The education system also needs to be restructured to cover the epidemic. The syllabus should be all inclusive where children in school can learn what are HIV/AIDS and the effects it has in the society. They will be able to get information from credible sources and not from their peers who may mislead them. They will be taught on how to stay safe and protect themselves. The use of condoms will be taught where the safe use will be advised to the most active generations (Hunter, p.107). Behavior change will be emphasized to the students where they will be given the facts and figures for them to choose their destiny.
Reducing the stigma on those who are positive will also need to be emphasized since the stigma may make them less productive in their workplaces. Setting up an organization that will be involved in the monitoring of the situation i.e. the rates of new infections the progress of drug use, the number of orphans and other related statistics will help in having an organized approach to fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa.
Cichocki, Mark R HIV and AIDS in Africa; The Epidemic Rages On. About.com Guide. http://aids.about.com/cs/aidsfactsheets/a/africa.htm
Fourie, Pieter. The Political Management of HIV and AIDS in South Africa: One burden too many?" Boston: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006
Hunter, Susan. Black Death: AIDS in Africa, Boston: Palrave Macmillan 2003
Iliffe, John. The African AIDS Epidemic: A History, New York: James Currey, 2006
Shah, Anup. AIDS in Africa. Global Issues. November 29, 2009. http://www.globalissues.org/article/90/aids-in-africa
UNAIDS, 2006. Report on the global AIDS Epidemic