HIV/AIDS Awareness

HIV/AIDS Awareness

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HIV/AIDS Awareness

How would you feel if you saw a four-year-old girl have to watch her
mother die a slow painful death from AIDS? Well this is what millions
of children face everyday living in Africa. Do you ever stop and
think about how lucky you are to live a happy and healthy life or do
you just take it for granted? An estimated 25 million adults and
children are living with HIV in Sub-Saharan Africa, and AIDS has
orphaned an estimated twelve million children.

HIV/AIDS is one of the biggest challenges the world faces today. The
rate of infection is quickly increasing and more and more people are
getting ill and dying from AIDS related illnesses. Of all the people
living with AIDS in the world, it is now estimated that 6 out of every
10 men, 8 out of every 10 women and 9 out of every 10 children live in
Africa. South Africa has one of the fastest growing rates of infection
in the world. This is all because there is not enough money to teach
these people about contraception and safe sex. Also, cultural beliefs
play a part in women’s rules in society. Just think how many lives
could be saved if we could raise awareness about the causes of
HIV/AIDS. However, because the problem of AIDS is so enormous it is a
tremendous problem for charities to alleviate the suffering in Africa.

Families and communities are badly effected by the epidemic. The
problem of care falls on the families and children of those who are
ill. Often they have already lost a wage earner and the insufficient
resources they have left are not enough to provide care for the ill
person and food for the family. Imagine if one of your parents died.
All of those luxuries of your play station, mobile phone and CD player
would not be important because all you would be worrying about is
where your next meal was coming from and if you had a roof over your

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head.

Children who are orphaned are often deprived not only of parental
care, but also of financial support. Many of them leave school and
have no hope of ever getting a decent education or job. Visualise not
being able to grow up to be that lawyer or doctor you have always
desired to become because you parents are dead and you have to provide
for your family. You are trapped like the prey of a defeated animal.
You are lucky that you actually grow up; many adults die at a very
young age and miss out on life. Some do not even get to see their
children reach their eighteenth birthday let alone their tenth. So
think what your eighteenth birthday would be like without your mum and
dad there to celebrate it with you. I do not think you could
comprehend what it would be like. Each day is a struggle. The
children who grow up without any support or guidance from adults may
become our biggest problem in the future.

Most of the people who are dying are between the ages of 20 and 45,
which is an age when most people are workers and parents. This has
serious consequences for African economies and the development of
these countries.

AIDS can affect anyone. Even you. People in the United Kingdom are
contracting the disease and it is becoming more
and more widespread even among the young. Why are 85 percent of
sexually active teens not using condoms? They ride the subways, don't

they? They learn about AIDS in school, right? It is the same old
problem; no one wants

to talk about teens having sex.

However, it is clear that AIDS is spreading faster to people who live
in poverty and lack access to education, basic health services,
nutrition and clean water. Young people and women are the most
vulnerable. Women are often powerless to insist on safe sex and

easily become infected by HIV positive partners. These powerless
women cannot run to the police and shout rape as the problem is too
big. It is happening everyday. What about the helpless children who
are raped and contract HIV/AIDS so young? What chance do they have in
life? They are just tossed aside like the rest of them whether they
are 6, 13 or 35. When people have other diseases like sexually
transmitted diseases, TB or malaria they are also more likely to
contract and die from AIDS.

Although AIDS has become very common, it is still surrounded by
silence. People are ashamed to speak about being infected and many see
it as a scandal when it happens in their family. People living with
AIDS are exposed to daily prejudice born out of ignorance and fear.
We cannot tackle this epidemic unless we can break the silence and
remove the shame that surrounds it. If we do not stop now you will
gradually see the human race killing itself off.

To prevent the spread of AIDS we have to educate people on how to
prevent infection. We also have to change the social attitudes that
make women vulnerable because they cannot refuse unsafe sex from a
partner and the attitudes among men that lead to the abuse women.
Improvements in tackling poverty and the development of better
educated programmes are also important factor that will limit the
spread of AIDS.

To deal with the results of the disease and the social problems it
creates, we have to make sure that people living with AIDS get care
and support to help them live longer and healthier lives. We have to
make the best of what they have got. What is so wrong about that? We
also have to make sure that those who are dying are properly looked
after. For the children who are left orphaned we have to find ways of
looking after them so that they do not become hopeless and turn to
crime or live on the streets because of poverty. They to want to make
the most of their life and hopefully there will soon be hope for them.

SO next time you turn on your television or radio and hear about
HIV/AIDS think about what you could do instead off turning it off or
switching over to the latest television programme. SO next time just
think about the people in Africa and around the world who do not have
these luxuries and are just concerned whether they may live or die.
It is the responsibility of every individual to support the fight
against AIDS. That means you. Not the person sitting next to you, or
who lives over the road from you, or the person who delivers your post
in the morning. But you!

So instead of sitting on your bum night after night watching your
favourite soaps or playing your latest computer game why do not you
think about those helpless orphans in Africa struggling to feed
themselves and do something about it. Why don’t you try to get your
school to bring awareness about HIV/AIDS to your local community. Get
those ignorant people to see the struggle people face everyday in
Africa and to appreciate how lucky they are. Get your school to
sponsor a child in Africa to give them the best chance in life just
like you take for granted. Do a sponsored walk, wear fancy dress or
even a sponsored silence. These little things could make a big
difference to a family or a child living in Africa.
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