AIDS in Africa

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Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is one of the most deadly

viruses in the world. No country in Africa has escaped the virus. Some have been

effected more then others though. The spread of AIDS in Africa is because of

poor medical treatment and a lack of education on the part of the people.

HIV is the virus which causes AIDS.(Aids in Africa,1994) HIV stands for

Human Immune-deficiency Virus. The virus attacks the bodies immune system

and weakens it. Scientists have wondered about the origin of HIV ever since the

epidemic emerged.

Experts believe that the virus was contracted through Chimpanzees. (AIDS

came from Chimps, 1999) Perhaps when someone was bitten by a chimp, or a

hunter was exposed to contaminated blood while field dressing an animal. (AIDS

came from Chimps, 1999) Tests were done by Dr. Beatrice Hahn of the University

of Alabama. Her studies tracked HIV back to a virus that infects four sub-species

of chimps that live in Africa. (AIDS came from Chimps, 1999) Hahn and her team

studied frozen tissue from a chimp that died of complications at childbirth. In

this frozen tissue their was the chimp version of the AIDS virus, called SIVcpz.

The genes in SIVcpz are genetically similar to the AIDS virus. (AIDS came from

Chimps, 1999) Chimps who have probably carried this virus for thousands of

years do not get sick from it. Researchers are trying to find out why chimps are

not effected by this virus, because it may lead to a cure. (Aids in Africa,1994) This

productive finding about the virus wasn't found until 1997 when testing started.

(Aids in Africa,1994) If it would have been found sooner maybe the massive

spread of AIDS could have been prevented.

Since the start of the epidemic an estimated 34 million people living in

Sub-Saharan Africa in 1998 were infected with HIV. (AIDS,1991) This is due to a

lack of education on the part of the people in Africa. They are not taught about

the virus as we are in the United States. In this country the public and media

educate the people about AIDS, including how to prevent the disease. Without

embarrassment, Americans openly discuss methods in which the disease is

transmitted. However in African cultures confronting sexual issues that cause

AIDS and HIV is very uncommon.(AIDS the epidemic,1994)

In Africa AIDS has become the number one cause of death, overtaking

Malaria.(The AIDS Reader,1991) The U.N. AIDS/health experts say more than 40

million people contracted the disease in 1980's and nearly 12 million of them

have died in Africa.

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