Aids in Africa essay 21

Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) has become an epidemic for many underdeveloped regions. Although it does exist in the developed nations, it is more prevalent in places like South America, Asia, the island countries and most heavily of all Africa. There are many aspects to the problem of AIDS in Africa. Public health departments lack the resources to treat patients properly and to control the epidemic through education. Thirty-three million people have AIDS in the world. Africa has two-thirds of that number.

According to the United Nations Aids Program on HIV/Aids, and World Health Organization (WHO), estimates, seven out of ten people newly infected with HIV in 1998 live in sub Saharan Africa. Among children under 15, the proportion is nine out of ten. Of all Aids deaths since the epidemic started, eighty-three percent have been in the region. These numbers sound even more astonishing considering only one-tenth of the world’s population lives in Africa, south of the Sahara. The amount of Africans affected by the epidemic is frightening.

Since the start of the epidemic, an estimated 34 million people living in sub-Saharan Africa have been infected with HIV. Approximately 11. 5 million of those people have already died, one-fourth of them being children. During the course of 1998, Aids has been responsible for an estimated two million deaths in Africa. There is about 21. 5 million men and women living with HIV in Africa, plus an extra one million being children. Four million of those people contracted the infection in 1998 alone (Mail 8 guardian).

No country in Africa has escaped the virus. Most of the new infections are concentrated in East Africa and especially in the southern part of the continent. In fact, the southern region of Africa holds majority of the world’s most hard-hit countries with the most AIDS cases. According to the Department of Health, South Africa’s current estimates show that over one person out of every five between the age of 15 and 49 is living with HIV or Aids in Botswana, Namibia, Swaziland and Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe was especially hit hard.

There are twenty-five surveillance sites in the country where blood taken from pregnant women is tested anonymously as a way of tracking the HIV infection. The most recent data, from 1997, show that HIV prevalence was below ten percent in just two sites. In the remaining twenty-three sites between one fifth and one half of all pregnant women were found infected. At least one third of these women are likely to pass the infection to the their baby (Netscape: Human Health). This past year, a little over fifty percent of all new infections in the southern region of Africa occurred in the country of South Africa alone.

South Africa is considered to have one of the fastest-growing HIV positive populations in the world. Health officials estimates that 1,500 South Africans are infected daily. AIDS is believed to have started in Africa as early as 1959. A stored sample of blood taken from an African in 1959 was tested in the 1980s and was found to be infected with AIDS (The World Book Multimedia Encyclopedia: “History of AIDS”). The most popular form of fighting the disease is not to get it in the first place. Officials are stressing prevention.

Since AIDS is a sexually transmitted disease, using condoms is the number one prevention technique. Also intravenous drug users should not share needles and all blood used for transfusions must be tested. Organizations like Doctors Without Borders, United Nations AIDS Program, and the World Health Organization have joined the war against HIV/AIDS. There are also countless programs to educate people on the matter. According to Jill Sherman in Pretoria of Times Newspapers Ltd. , a 100 million-dollar program to fight AIDS worldwide has been announced by Tony Blair.

Officials say the money will go towards the United Nations AIDS program (UNAIDS) and to projects to help particular victims such as those at Nazareth House, an orphanage in Cape Town, South Africa, where most of the children are HIV positive or have AIDS (The Times). Scientists said that they have harnessed a protein that can force cells infected with HIV to commit suicide. “It’s absolutely amazing. It’s literally a gift from God, ” said Steven Dowdy of the Howard Hughes Institute at Washington University in St. Louis, who led the study.

(Reuters) Also, an AIDS virus obtained from a patient in Kenya has been used to prepare a new vaccine against the AIDS menace, the Pan-African News Agency (PANA) reported. The project is called the internal AIDS vaccine initiative. Universities rather than pharmaceutical companies head the program, the vaccine would be affordable to poor people in Africa if it is proved viable. (Dr. Omu Anzala, Kenya’s leading virologist) The vaccine will be tested first in England to allay any potential allegations the people in Africa were being used as guinea pigs.

There are13 sub-types of the AIDS virus worldwide with strains A, C and D common in Africa, while strain B is common in America and Europe. In making the vaccine the scientists were keen to use a strain of HIV virus that is common in Africa, which initially will be the main focus of the international AIDS vaccine initiative (“Africa could produce AIDS vaccine). The most common medicine to help already infected persons is AZT, which is taken in pill form. It helps keep the count of T-cells in the body up. T-cells are destroyed when infected with the AIDS virus.

AIDS is very serious. It has been compared to plagues of earlier centuries (Working Together Against AIDS). To date there is no cure for AIDS. Almost every nation has reported cases of AIDS to the World Health Organization, an agency of the United Nations that monitors the AIDS epidemic.

As of 1989, AIDS has been diagnosed in 149 countries in the world (Netscape: “Human Health”) Works Cited “Africa could produce AIDS vaccine”. [WWW] http://www. Arabic News. com/ansub/Daily/Day/9810271998120750. htm. 27 January 1999. Draimin, Barbara Hermie.

Working Together Against AIDS. New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, Inc. , 1995. “Mail & Guardian: Where the AIDS epidemic hurts most”. http//www. mg. co. za/mg/news/98 nov 2/30 nov-aids. html. 27 January 1999. “Netscape: Human Health”. http:///cie sin. ci. vw. edu/pi/poland/human health. html. 23 December 1998. “The Times: Foreign News 100m Boost to AIDS Fight”.

[WWW}http://www. thetimes. co. uk/new/pages/tim/99/01/07/timfg nafr01002. html? 1793845. 27 January 1999 “UNAIDS Fact Sheet”. [WWW]http://www. unaids. org/highband/fact/saepap98. html. 27 January 1999.

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