AIDS in Africa

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AIDS in Africa I. Introduction In 1983, the first report indicating that wealthy Africans were seeking medical treatment for AIDS in Europe, was published in a medical journal. What the world did not know at that time, was that AIDS had been spreading rapidly through parts of central Africa for years. Furthermore, no one ever imagined that, by the end of the year 1997, an estimated 30.6 million persons in the world would be infected with HIV, the virus causing AIDS, with the majority of these people living in Africa (Feldman and Miller 14). The prospect of AIDS being responsible for over two million funerals in the year 1998 alone, was also something that no one had ever thought possible. However, the reality is that the HIV/AIDS situation in Africa has blown out of control, and the current epidemic as it exists there is far greater and more widespread than that of the rest of the world. Sub-Saharan Africa, which is the region of Africa hit hardest by the epidemic, is home to only one-tenth of the world’s population, yet reportedly accounts for 71 percent of the infected population, 79 percent of cumulative AIDS related deaths and 92 percent of the world’s AIDS orphans. At the end of 1999, 24.5 million adults and children were living with HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. Also taking a toll, is the life expectancy rate of Africans, which has dropped from sixty-one to thirty-nine years in the past decade, and is estimated to shrink to thirty-one years by 2008 due to the AIDS epidemic. Although AIDS is just one of the problems presently facing Africa, it is a major concern that needs to be addressed, before entire cultures are wiped out. AIDS has already claimed more lives than the total of all wars, famines, floods and such deadly diseases as malaria on the African continent (Laino). Attempts to eliminate or at least alleviate AIDS in Africa, though, have not been easy or rather successful. For a variety of reasons, due mainly to the cultural and economic aspects of Africa, AIDS itself, and thus the treatment and prevention of it, on this continent is different from the situation in the US, or most other developing countries for that matter. Evidence of this can best be seen through the inability of the rest of the world to help deal with the problem of AIDS in Africa (as it is clear that a country as poor as Africa can not survive this fight on their own) which has allowed the problem to spiral out of control.

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