HIV in South Africa v. Uganda

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The Emergence of HIV in South Africa Much like the emergence of HIV in the United States, the first HIV cases in South Africa were found in the homosexual male population. In 1983, two homosexual, South African men passed away from opportunistic infections associated with autoimmune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). In the months following, many other homosexual men became infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which caused the people of South Africa to consider AIDS a disease that solely infected homosexuals. Sadly, this misperception created stigma around becoming infected with HIV. The media had stuck to the idea that HIV and AIDS were largely a disease of the homosexual population and vilified infection by promulgating the negative stereotypes of men who have sex with men (MSM) through fear campaigns and misinformation. The African National Congress, who had been exiled from South Africa during the 1980s, reported that HIV may be laboratory-developed; others stated that it was spread through tear gas sprayed by the police or through deliberate infection of ‘town wives,’ sex workers who served local communities. The apartheid government seized this information, using the stigma associated with MSM populations to put the issue of HIV on the back burner. At the same time, approximately 100 individuals who were being treated for hemophilia were diagnosed with HIV, caused by the use of tainted blood or blood products use to treat the disease; these people were viewed by the media and the government as ‘innocent victims,’ in stark contrast to the MSM population, whose infections were deemed to have been brought on by their own actions. The apartheid government, during this time, was weary of a rapid spread of HIV in the ... ... middle of paper ... is considered a high-risk profession for many reasons, the most important of which is due to the rapid and easy transmission of HIV. In both South Africa and Uganda, sex workers are a marginalized and stigmatized population. One study showed that adequate access to health services for HIV-positive sex workers in both South Africa and Uganda is very poor, much lower than that which is available to the general public: when providers in facilities in both countries were informed that patients worked in the sex trade, many were denied treatment, had to endure rude or disparaging remarks, or were charged much higher prices for a service that would be provided to someone else for less money. The result of this stigmatization in the health care sector is that sex workers are delaying care until it is too late, further expediting the spread of HIV to sex workers’ clients.

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