South Africa Aids Epidemic Essay, Research Paper
THE SOUTH AFRICA AIDS EPIDEMIC
This is a paper on epidemics. I have focused on the ever increasing AIDS epidemic in South Africa. I cover what AIDS is and how it is contracted. The factors causing it to affect South Africa much worse than its surrounding neighbors, and what is happening to combat this modern epidemic
It is believed that the HIV virus, which causes AIDS, first originated from Africa decades ago, and today many would agree that this is the place where it is causing the most devastation. Nearly 27 million of the 36 million people infected with AIDS worldwide, are in Africa. This number is a similar amount of Europeans who died of the Bubonic Plague in the fourteenth century. The lifetime risk of dying from AIDS now is as high as 50%, and the epidemic is increasing at an alarming rate. South Africa has been hit especially hard. Ten to twelve percent of adults are infected with HIV leading to a total of more than 4.2 million adults and children infected with the virus. UNICEF reports note that almost one in four women aged between 15 and 24 are infected and one in ten men. The current president, Thabo Mbeki, suggests that poverty is the main cause of AIDS, but I believe that it is far from the only cause involved. In this paper I will discuss the world-wide AIDS problem with specific reference to the devastation it is causing in South Africa.
(In my interview with Tammy Oleson, the Director of Nurses of Hospices Health Care in Stuart, I asked her if she would compare the AIDS epidemic in South Africa to the bubonic plaque. She responded by saying that Aids is a viral epidemic that spreads as a result of human behavior. We can chose to modify our actions to prevent infection. The Bubonic Plaque was an epidemic caused by a bacteria. Infection spread amongst the people with no relations to lifestyle choices. However, both diseases have infected populations drastically.)
An epidemic is occurring when a disease attacks or affects many people simultaneously in a community or area. it is a widespread occurrence of a disease with a rapid development or growth. In today s world modern science has brought most of the major killer diseases, like Polio, under control. It has even eradicated some such as Smallpox, and so deaths due to once common outbreaks have greatly reduced. Through the development of science, cures and preventative measures have been found but it seems as soon as one is controlled another appears. This is the case with AIDS. It was unheard of 50 years ago, and is now a major world problem, so much so that we, The United States, have declared it a threat to national security.
Through such acts as widely available oral contraception, great scientific break through in itself, we have opened ourselves to attack by STD s, sexually transmitted diseases. This is also the drug age where intravenous injecting with dirty needles have helped diseases, which travel through blood as a medium, to increase in abundance. AIDS is spread through bodily fluids such as semen and blood. Therefore it is transferred person to person by sexual intercourse, blood transfusions, shared needles, and contaminated medical equipment.
Since the introduction of democracy in 1994, poverty in South Africa hasn t significantly changed, but AIDS has increased rapidly. In the early 1990 s AIDS was not a significant problem there. It was prevalent in Uganda and Cote D Ivoire on the West Coast. There are many factors which have influenced this huge rise in prevalence. It has gone from a constant 3% occurrence in pregnant women to a 20% occurrence today, these figures are taken from the Chris Haney Hospital. AIDS related diseases now account for most of the cases in this hospital.
One of the hopes of the South Africa s new found democracy is that it would bridge the gap between the poor Blacks and rich Whites, but this aim has become more difficult with HIV. A major factor affecting this is a hang up from South Africa and migrant labor to build the modern nation. In impoverished rural areas husbands take jobs in distant cities to support their families, for up to eleven months a year. The former white minority government wouldn t allow men to take their families with them, so today a large number of these workers, who are HIV positive due to exposure to commercial sex and alcohol, are returning home to die of AIDS. The wives of these men are taught to obey their husbands even if they know they have been unfaithful.
With the freedom that democracy has brought the AIDS problem has got worse not better. The HIV infection rate has accelerated due to the empowerment of the trade unions. The transportation system and infrastructure is more modern than in its neighboring countries, and because of this people move about much more easily, and the virus will naturally follow these individuals. The worse is yet to come as many of these people who are infected with HIV don t know it yet as they haven t developed symptoms, so they will feed an infection spiral, causing about 1700 new cases of HIV a day.
( Tammy Oleson, of Hospice in Stuart, said Reported cases of AIDS and HIV are beginning to resurface again in high numbers. Intravenous drug use remains deeply embedded in society and promiscuous sex continues especially among teenagers all around the world. Although, infections via blood transfusions have been eliminated through improvements and modification in the medical community. Time can only tell us what the future holds for the disease.
Many people ask why has the problem accelerated in a country such as South Africa, of which has resources unlike its neighbors. In 1994 democracy was announced and the new government took control and drew up a new comprehensive AIDS plan, that dealt with the care of victims, their treatment, research, human rights and AIDS awareness campaigns.
Health workers have worked hard over the past few years and the awareness of AIDS, the causes of AIDS, and the prevention are at 98%. Health officials don t understand why there is so much refusal to acknowledge what this epidemic is doing. Only one in ten women have sex with a condom yet most of them know the risks involved with this, and condom use is much higher in neighboring countries where they are much less widely available. The health profession is baffled, why hasn t awareness translated into changed behavior?
The medical profession has many ideas as to why the epidemic has hit so hard. Dr. Malegapure William Makgoba, President of the South African Medical Research council, suggest that there are multiple strains of AIDS circulating, giving way to many separate epidemics. There is a high prevalence of STD s due to poverty causing a boom in commercial sex work industry. There is also a growing drug trafficking industry within Sub-Saharan Africa. Also war has occurred in many of the surrounding countries and this has allowed the disease to take root as what little resources would have been directed into trying to control this problem are instead used with war. War also causes the fragile infrastructure there is in these countries to break down and so even if the drugs were freely available, the necessary requirements to get them where they are needed are not in place.
So what can be done? There are many things that must happen in
Sub-Saharan Africa before this problem can be sorted. There needs to be a greater acknowledgment that there is a real problem and realization of the damage it is doing. The current president, Thabo Mbeki, instead of dealing with the issues pressing, has reopened the debate as to whether AIDS is indeed caused by HIV and Mbeki even questioned the medications that the United States provide to Africa as the possible cause of AIDS.
( There is a number of people that think that the government was involved in the creation of AIDS. I asked Tammy Oleson what her views on this theory was and she said Absolutely not! I strongly disagree about the conspiracy theory. AIDS is a virus that has spun out of control as a result of a lack of knowledge or poor, personal, behavioral choices. )
Campbell Reece Mitch Biology 5th Edition Benjamin Cumming