HIV/AIDs is one of the most deathly diseases in the United Kingdom today. The North-West of The United Kingdom is particularly badly affected. Since the virus was discovered in the 1980s, over 23,000 people have died from AIDs alone. It is estimated that there are around 73,000 people living with HIV in the United Kingdom today. That’s a 1:1000 figure. Although this is not as high as say, Sub-Saharan Africa, it’s still a shocking figure for an MEDC.
This shocking amount can be divided into three significant groups – homosexuals, drug users and people receiving blood transfusions, mainly hemophiliacs.Homosexual relations are estimated to have left 39,000 people currently with the virus. Drug users are over 5,000 of the people with the virus, and blood transfusion patients make up just under 2,000 people living with the virus. The remaining amount of people living with the virus are children who inherited it from their parents, heterosexuals and people who got the virus due to wound contact when kissing/practicing first aid etc.The fact that there are so many people in the United Kingdom living with the virus has put a great strain on the NHS (National Health Service) in the UK. Although people see an MEDC such as The United Kingdom being able to cope well with a disease such as this, the truth is that it is extremely difficult – however, this is for different reasons than in an LEDC.One of the main problems is that people do not like to come forward for testing.
Whereas in an LEDC, the HIV/AIDs virus is so common that it is not considered a taboo, or dirty, in an MEDC, having the virus is considered dirty and foul, and people are afraid of being tested, simply because they know the social impact that it will have on their lives. Socially, the consequences of HIV/AIDs in an MEDC such as the United Kingdom are far greater than in an LEDC. As stated before, people living with the virus know that they will be abused verbally and physically, and that they will be considered infected and dirty. As the disease used to be associated mainly with homosexuals, drug users and sex workers, you can only imagine the horrific abuse HIV/AIDs patients may suffer, even if the abuse is (as is often the case) incorrect.
Another problem that the NHS has, coping with HIV/AIDs patients is not the limited amount of drugs – as would be the case in an LEDC, but the expense and abundance of drugs. The problem is that after a while, an HIV/AIDs patient often becomes resistant to the given drugs. This means that the NHS needs to find a new drug for the patient, one that they are not resistant to. Then extra drugs need to be given to counterbalance the negative side-effects of drugs, such as nausea, vomiting, dizziness and loss of consciousness. This, in effect, means that any one individual may be taking up to twenty pills a day, in a cocktail of chemicals. It’s not the lack of drugs that causes problems in MEDCs, it’s the fact that we constantly have to develop new ones to fight the disease, and this puts a great strain on the economy of a country.
In 2005, the United Kingdom spent 23 billion on its health budget. 65% of that went into HIV/AIDs health care, drug development and advertising campaigns, encouraging people to be tested and treated against the virus.Another economic problem with HIV/AIDs in the United Kingdom is that one of the groups who have the virus is refugees, and they cannot afford drug treatment. Now, as with LEDCs, the United Kingdom, as an MEDC is starting to face the same problem.
It cannot afford to supply free drugs to everyone with the virus, and this means that while the middle-class population can afford drug treatment, many working-class people and immigrants cannot. Campaigns such as Children in Need, Stop AIDs Now and (RED) are working to produce funding for these people, and so far they have raised enough money to keep these people on drug treatment programs.Demographically, the impact that the HIV virus has had on the United Kingdom is not as great as it is in an LEDC, as you can see when you compare the population pyramids4.
Still, it does have a definite impact on the amount of deaths and the population in the United Kingdom. You can see that the band of 20-29 year old in the United Kingdom – mainly the children who would have contracted HIV/AIDs in the 80s and 90s is significantly smaller than the bands above and below it. As a result of this, you can foreshadow a drop in an elderly population for the United Kingdom, as well as fewer children, as many HIV/AIDs patients do not wish to have children out of concern of them contracting the virus. There are, however, now ways of preserving sperm, such as ‘sperm washing’ that can ensure children that are given birth to are not contaminated with the virus.In conclusion, as the United Kingdom my choice of affected region, I found it interesting to look at. Whereas many people will have chosen LEDCs, I find it interesting and challenging to look at an unexpected place that has an HIV/AIDs problem. We may not have problems like LEDCs, but some of them are similar, and the difference(s) between the problems is highly interesting to look at.
Hopefully, by charity funding and government support, we can help to bring the pandemic under control and eventually eradicate the disease altogether.