Acquired immune deficiency syndrome, AIDS is diagnosed upon a collection of symptoms and is due to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). HIV attacks and weakens one’s immune system, gradually destroying it. Although many don’t get the symptoms of HIV for many years, the first symptoms can appear within six weeks. Symptoms include flu-like illness, sore throats, swollen lymph nodes, muscle aches and rashes. The virus can then take from between one year and more than ten years to develop into AIDS. An indication of AIDS may be developing severe weight loss over a short period of time, serious infections and cancers such as Lymphoma. There is no cure for AIDS, and once it has been diagnosed, it severly impacts a person’s ability to live a normal life, ultimately leading to death.
HIV can be transmitted through contact with bodily fluids ( vaginal fluid,blood and semen). Methods of transmission include unprotected sex, sharing of needles or syringes (for drug injection) and blood transfusions. Altough it is rare, because in most countries blood is screened for HIV antibodies, the transmission of HIV is most dangerous through blood transfusion. The most common way of transmission is through unprotected sex. During vaginal intercourse, semen and vaginal fluids come in contact, and during anal intercouse semen and blood come in contact. Transmission can also occur through oral sex where semen is transfered. Babies born to HIV- infected women often become infected before or during birth, otherwise through breast feeding.
It is strongly believed that HIV inherits its properties from SIV (Simian Immunodeficiency Virus), which is found in monkeys. Since monkeys were eaten regularly eaten in West Africa ,it is also believed that HIV/AIDS originated from West Africa . However, AIDS was first discovered in New York, USA. The first report on AIDS was published on the 5th of June 1981 by the Center for Disease Control. Since then the world has been facing up to one of the deadliest epidemic in modern history.
Although a pandemic (AIDS) affects each region in every continent of the world, of the 40 million cases of HIV, two-thirds are in the Sub- Sahara alone. In 2006, 60% of the people living with AIDS live in the Sub- Sahara and today there are even more. Today, 25 million people live with HIV in Africa as the disease spreads rapidly across the world. India has the largest number of people living with HIV outside Africa. There are 5.1 million people in India who are infected.
Many different people suffer from HIV. 59% of the infected victims in Africa are women. More women suffer possibly due to lower promiscuity -an infected woman infects fewer men that an infected man infects women. Youngsters (15-24 years old) account for half of all new HIV infections world wide. Nearly 6,000 young people become infected every day. In the most severely affected countries adults between 20-49 years of age are dying in larger numbers.
There are various problems with the epidemic AIDS. Many of HIV- positive victims don’t know they are infected until the symptoms start to kick in. This deferral leads to many unknowingly spreading the syndrome, and a deluge of sick people hungry for treatment. HIV takes advantage of behaviour patterns that are difficult to break because of society. For example, in some places in Africa , multiple partners and sex are crucial to a young man’s life and if one wears a condom, which helps prevent the transmission of HIV, he is not considered a “man” in society. Roman Catholics believe that using condoms is a sin.
There is no cure for AIDS, which is another problem for society. ARV, antiretroviral, is the latest, most effective medicine. It is designed to inhibit the reproduction of HIV in one’s body. If the treatment is successful, the deterioration of the immune system and AIDS can only be delayed for years. However ARV not kill HIV it has become very expensive and is not always successful. There is no medicine or treatment to prevent MTCT ( mother to child transmission) and blood transfusion at all.
Misconceptions about HIV/AIDS and associations people have with the disease’s transmission create stigma and make discrimination a major crisis. Discrimination and stigma complicate an individual’s ability to deal with issues. When discrimination and poverty is combined, it becomes a firm barrier for people to access the prevention, care and support one needs when HIV-positive. AIDS orphans are highly vulnerable to the brunt of stigma.
The HIV/AIDS epidemic impacts the economy . The plague slows or reverses growth in the labor supply. The loss of young adults in their most productive years affects overall economic output . The epidemic diverts public spending from investments in physical and human capital to health expenses, leading to a slower growth of gross domestic product ( which results in foreign investments being declined). The reduction of investments is another reason for reduction in economic growth. Savings and investments of families are reduced because of HIV/AIDS treatment and medicine expenditure. If children’s education, health and nutrition suffers as a result , there will be little hope for economic growth in the future.
Education is a major engine of economic and social development and is negatively impacted by the AIDS endemic. Due to fewer births , illness and deaths of children and deaths of parents, which lead to household poverty and orphan- hood ,there is a decrease in the supply of students. The deaths of teachers or absenteeism of teachers result in a decrease in quality of education and a decrease in supply of teachers. A study conducted in Zambia showed that, of about 1.7 million primary school students, approximately 56,000 lost a teacher to AIDS in 1999.
In Rakai district of Uganda a study found that total enrolments in three primary schools went from 1,532 in 1989 to 50 in 1993. A lack of knowledge and education causes uneducated people and political leaders not to notice the seriousness of AIDS and some not knowing what it is or how to prevent it. In Zambia, projections yield a population aged 15 and below (school- aged children) at 5.8 million in 2010, 1.4 million less that it would have been in the absence of HIV and AIDS.
The AIDS pandemic effects society horribly. Deaths in households because of AIDS cause losses of income and losses of savings, assets and property, which result in changes in the household composition , losses of money for children’s education and a declination in children’s nutritional status. HIV also causes an increase of house- hold expenditures (medical costs) and absenteeism, that also result in losses of money for children’s education and a declination in children’s nutritional status.
In Booysen (2003), surveys found that households that had experienced illness or death in the recent past were more than twice as likely to be poor than non-affected households, and they were more likely to experience long-term poverty. The HIV/AIDS epidemic has also affected food consumption in households. A study in Zimbabwe (2000) showed that households fostering maternal orphans had sold assets and switched from more expensive to cheaper food. The problem of discrimination and stigma worsens the situation, as it results in individuals not getting any help with their poverty and either denying that they’re HIV-positive (so they spread the disease further) or them being ignored by society and dying from their dilemmas.
To deal with the situation of the lack of education, which results in uneducated people and leaders that have not begun to dispense with the disease, there could be a peer-assisting program. Professionally educated charity workers could come and could take a sample of people and educate them about leadership and how to deal with the HIV/AIDS plague and how to use leadership to defeat the epidemic. These students could then go and teach their peers and put their knowledge to use. United Nations would be responsible. However because people have different languages and learn different things it might be difficult to teach all, so the program should only be for adults. This way issues that can not be discussed in front of toddlers can be taught and parents can teach their kids later. Translators can be hired according to which country the program is taught in. This idea has been proven successful before as it is part of the ACP program being used in Uganda, thus there will be a higher possibility for it to work sufficiently.
To teach responsibility to youngsters about sexual relations and the risk about sharing needles and the need to use condoms ( especially when visiting prostitutes) there could be sex education courses in schools, radios and churches. It could be promoted as a free and necessary course if one would be able to live in the country so that the course could not be ignored. Personal involvement of the head of state would be needed because to make a course necessary like how education was made free till 7th grade in Botswana the government would be the main person who makes it possible.
Prostitution should be legalized , licensed, monitored and regulated so that the government can keep track and regularly check that prostitutes are HIV-negative. Monitoring prostitution has been proven successful in Australia.
Dealing with the spread of AIDS, prevention should be made available and cheap. In Africa an average of only 4.6 free condoms are avaliable per male per year. To promote safe sex instead condoms could be exported in the billions instead of the mere tens of millions. 100 condoms could be delivered to every family with sons and fathers . Charities who supply the free condems would be responsible to export more and the head of state would be responsible to publicize the “giving out of free condoms”. This was done in Uganda in the 1990’s and proved useful. The same thing should be done with drug needles. Free clean needles should be given out.
To decrease medical expenses the government could break the pharmaceutical patents. No problems will be encountered because it is legal if the government breaks it. The Thai government broke the patent on ARV and was proved successful.
Due to the lack of money because it is spent on the fight against AIDS, economies will not grow. To solve this problem could be another global fund. Money could be given by banks and charity organizations to poor countries to support their economy. The money could be given to the head of the state ONLY to spend on AIDS thus their economy won’t be effected by the plague. If this plan were to be implemented, banks like World bank, charities for AIDS and the UN (United Nations) would be responsible for promoting the idea.
However banks may refuse to spend the money. There is already a global fund to fight aids to support the idea. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, was first proposed by the United Nations’ (UN) Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, back in 2001, and officially came into being in 2002. It aimed to raise funds and pool money from governments, businesses and individuals around the world, to fight AIDS.
To change the point of view of locals, and erase discrimination and stigma from people’s minds and to make condoms “socially acceptable”, a program like the ABC (Abstain, Be faithful, or use Condoms) could hold discussions of sexual behaviour out in to the open, involving those who are HIV-positive and counsel couples. The ABC program was used in Uganda in the 1990’s and was an accomplishment. The head of state or government would be responsible to funding such a program because he/she usually holds the citizens trust and are capable to persuade residents.
To conclude, HIV/AIDS is a world wide problem and must be tackled by everyone. The disease affects all kinds of people, from poor to rich, young to old and is impossible to stop unless we do something. A pandemic like the HIV/AIDS outbreak slows down development thus results in a disaster. It’s problems impacts the world of economy ,education and society. There are simple solutions that can fight HIV. Just a few modifications to our lives can change everything. Support given by everyone can erase the idea of discrimination and stigma of AIDS, which holds many back from acting and helping. We must break the vicious cycle of AIDS that brings poverty , misery and more expense into lives. Not every action has to be taken by a charity organization, the usage of a condom can save many lives.