AIDS in Africa in the 20th century has been one of the major concerns, not only to Africa but to the whole world. To start with AIDS is an acronym for Acquired Immunodeficiency syndrome. The focus on Africa especially the Sub Saharan Africa is majorly because the highest prevalence rate of AIDS is in Africa. Statistics show that only about 14 percent of the world population is resident in Africa, but also disturbing to learn that more than 60 percent of those infected with HIV and AIDS are in Africa and more than 70 percent of those who die of HIV/AIDS in the world are also from Africa. These statistics are just but a few that points out o the rest of the world that Africa is both a haven and epicenter of this scourge.
AIDS can no longer be considered to be just an epidemic but a tragedy that is slowly eating up on a continent and a stumbling block to social development. It is for this reason that we must all gear up our efforts in eradicating this epidemic. It is only through identifying the various reasons for the spread of AIDS and through such knowledge we will be able to take the necessary steps towards eradicating or even on a lighter note, reducing the prevalence of AIDS in Africa.
It is for this reason that I have decided to focus my work on finding the root causes that are the fuel to prevalence of AIDS in Africa, and on careful analysis of these causes we shall surely be in a better if not the best position to save Africa and the rest of the world as a result.
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In achieving this, I have undertaken intensive and extensive reading on various materials from books, articles and essays that shed light and those that try and propose noble ideas that if implemented AIDS would be a thing of the past. Some of the works done on AIDS in Africa according to my assessment prove to be obsolete probably due to emerging trends brought about by growth in technology as well as development of human intellect.
It is therefore my strong belief that if we all unite regardless of race, origin, and wealth towards fighting this epidemic then we will surely have won the war. This involves both the healthy and the already infected joining hands, the wealthy and the meager and most importantly the relevant government authorities.
Poverty and AIDS in Africa
Poverty is with no doubt the mother of all problems and calamities faced by human kind in the 20th century. It is poverty that brings about ignorance, whereby children do not have access to learning institutions and as a result they grow up without the knowledge of how to prevent themselves from HIV infection. Most of these children reside in the sub urban areas and it is in such areas where crime rate and drug abuse are most practiced. Poverty has had a much negative impact on the fight against AIDS in Africa. Most of the third world countries are in Africa which again points out why AIDS is most prevalent at the same place. Here are some of the analyses of how poverty has had a hand in the spread of AIDS.
Lack of education: Poverty is one of the main reasons why a child would lack access to a good education facility. It is through such that the child grows ignorant of the dangers that surround him or her. A child who grows up without having a clue of why one should not share sharp objects such as needles or one who has no idea of the role of circumcision among boys towards leaving a healthy life is no doubt at risk of contracting HIV and consequently suffering from AIDS. It is thus the responsibility of the relevant government and the parents as well to ensure that children get access to quality education. Through such education a child will be aware of the preventive measures towards contracting HIV.
The government can achieve this by allocating more funds to the education sector, build school facilities in the sub urban areas and possibly put up policies that will ensure that every child gets access to education and not just education, but quality education. When the younger generation is aware of this epidemic then we shall be surely safeguarding the future of the young generation and by so doing we shall be safeguarding the future of Africa as a whole. It is clear that AIDS has robbed us labor in terms of doctors, engineers, lawyers who are were it not for this epidemic Africa would not have been very far economy wise and technology wise. Hence by protecting our future generation we are also investing in a better Africa where no doctors, engineers and lawyers will be taken away by this malady.
Access to health facilities: Africa is known to home to some of the biggest slums in the world. Such slums are Soweto in South Africa and Kibera in Kenya. Such slums in most case have no clinics or hospitals mainly because of the governments poor planning and insecurity, whereby no doctor or nurse would feel safe working in such a place. One who is poor may not be in a position to purchase a new razor blade that he is using to shave or a needle that he might have used to treat a wound. Thus, such people are forced to share such items such as needles, razor blades and tooth brushes.
Another major consequence of poor or lack of healthy facilities is the growing infection of infants with HIV during birth and who later come to die at an early age from AIDS. Hence the government should avail maternity hospitals to women and also offer them at an affordable rate. It would also be necessary to educate infected mothers on how to avoid infecting their children with the virus through such means as breast feeding.
When talking of lack of access to health facilities, it also means lack of access to things such as condoms that are essential in prevention of STDs (Sexually Transmitted Diseases). It is disturbing to know that most of these people are forced to even recycle condoms for lack of availability or a means to reach such utilities. Again the call is on the relevant government authorities to address such issues. The government should always avail contraceptives especially condoms even for free, them being the only contraceptives that can offer protection against AIDS.
Cultural practices and AIDS in Africa
Africa is among the few continents that are celebrated for the richness in their culture. However, some of the cultural practices have unfortunately led to the spread of AIDS in Africa. Such practices include among many wife inheritance and the practice of polygamy as a tradition in the society.
Wife inheritance: This is a common practice among various communities in Africa such as the Luo community in Kenya. This is whereby; when a woman’s husband dies she is inherited by the deceased’s brother as part of the property. The sad thing is that, this cultural practice is still carried out up to today especially by those who tend to remain true to their culture. Assuming a scenario where the deceased died of AIDS, then it would be rather obvious that the wife is infected too, and she will in turn infect her new husband who inherited her. The man will in turn infect his first wife and the chain continues and there AIDS will spread like a wild fire. Such practices should be abolished and even considered unconstitutional in the various countries. The people should also undergo adult education informing them of the dangers of such cultural practices.
Polygamy: The term polygamy refers to a man marrying more than one wife. This practice is most common among African traditions. Polygamy was used as a measure of a man’s wealth and the many the number of wives the famous you became. This practice is one of among the few that has proved almost impossible to eradicate. This is because, some the African leaders are themselves polygamous whereby some are even open about it and see it only as a source of pride. The effect of polygamy is that should one woman in the marriage get infected with AIDS so does the rest of the women and of course their husband who will be in this case transmitting it from one woman to the other.
Unfortunately some of the communities in Africa do not believe in the circumcision of boys and instead of the removal of the fore skin, they remove a number of teeth as a way of initiation to adulthood. Circumcision of men has been proven to greatly reduce the risk of contracting AIDS among men. Hence, this again calls for education on the right practices such as circumcision and educating the men of the importance of such a practice.
Drug abuse and AIDS in Africa
Various analysts and scholars have pointed out drug abuse to be one of the reasons why AIDS is so profound in Africa and also those countries considered to be third world though not in Africa, such as Mexico. The reason for mentioning Mexico is one of the countries that are highly infested with drug abuse and also a country where AIDS scourge in on the rampant.
There are various methods of drug abuse that range from taking alcohol to injecting oneself with substances such as heroin or cocaine. A deeper look at some of these methods will help give an insight of how AIDS can be spread through such ways and also be able to come up with measures to prevent such from happening.
Alcoholism: This is one thing that might get everyone to disagree with me but truth be told, it’s the ultimate danger in disguise. The problem is not the health effects of taking alcohol, it is the state that one is in after taking too much of it. Most people have had experiences of drinking too much of alcohol to the extent that they do not remember a series of events right after their drinking escapades.
It is common to hear a person regret his or her actions during a previous night when he or she was under the influence of alcohol. Such are the actions that will get one digging an early grave for himself or her. Most people when under the influence of alcohol especially after taking too much tend to lose control of themselves. This then ends up in making one engage in unprotected sex with someone whom they have never met before. The problem will not be having sex, but having unprotected sex with someone whom you do not know his or her HIV status.
Use of injections: Drug abuse has been associated with people especially the youth injecting themselves with drugs provided in liquid form and such that cannot be taken orally. Hence, this leaves them with no option to inject the substances into their blood systems as most claim, that the effect of the drug is quicker. The problem comes in buying this syringes used to inject the drug into the blood system every time a drug addict wants a dose. In most cases most of these drug addicts are jobless and only take the drug as a way of trying to escape their misery. Thus, they usually do not have resources to buy new syringes and the little they get, will be used to buy more drugs. Left with no choice they end up sharing these syringes to administer the drug into their body.
Out of ignorance and the fact that they are already under the influence they share this syringes and as a result of contact of their body fluids through the syringe they get to infect each other with HIV and as a result suffer from AIDS. Some report cases involve drug addicts collecting the syringes from even dumping sites to use on their body.
Providing this young men and women with syringes is definitely not the way to go as it will only serve to promote drug abuse. Policies that deal with drug abuse and drug trafficking have to be put in place and by the relevant government authorities, that will ensure drugs are cleared and provide a source of livelihood for them. Investing in rehabilitation facilities would also be a considerable solution as it will reduce drug abuse and as a result reduce the sharing of syringes.
We cannot continue ignoring this problem, as its roots get to grow deeper and deeper neither can we watch children become orphans whereas the innocent ones continue to die of other people’s mistakes. How we tackle this problem of AIDS in Africa is surely going to be the judgment bestowed on us by history itself. It is my sincerest hope that through incorporating the few ideas highlighted above we will have taken a step forward towards putting to an end the prevalence of AIDS in Africa.