Africa Is Dying Slowly Revisited

Less than half of HIV-positive pregnant women have access to antiretroviral treatment

Four years ago, I wrote an article about HIV in Africa.  Imbued with a sense of importance, and filled with the hope that my words would magically change the world, I titled it Africa is Dying Slowly, and called on humanity to do something about the crippling situation of HIV/AIDS on the African continent.  This may sound naïve. It certainly seems that way to me at times. Since I wrote that article in 2007, I have entered university to study history and political science. Learning about the repeated failures of mankind can certainly give oneself a negative and gloomy outlook on life. And yes, sometimes when I glance through that article, I do wonder what childish innocence led me to think that it might have any effect. However, I still see a glimmer of truth behind the flowery sentences and tearful pleas.

Here are the facts:[i]

  • According to UNAIDS, Sub-Saharan Africa is still the region most affected by HIV
  • In 2008, Sub-Saharan Africa accounted for 72% of AIDS-related deaths worldwide.
  • Women continue to be disproportionally infected, and account for 60% of cases in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Nine countries in southern Africa bear the largest burden of HIV/AIDS. Each of them has an adult prevalence over 10%.
  • While the rate of infection has slightly declined, the number of people living with HIV has increased.

These statistics express the continuing need for a renewed commitment to the treatment and rehabilitation of individuals infected and living with HIV/AIDS. One of the major overlooked issues pertaining to HIV/AIDS on the African continent is the toll it takes on state and economic development, as well as the more obvious social implications. If a large percentage of a country’s population is unable to work or even take care of themselves, it is up to the state to take responsibility for them. However, in a country with weak administrative structures and limited resources, these people are often left to themselves, creating a vacuum of unhealthy adults in the given society.This is not to diminish the work and efforts of people on the ground, in research, and in various levels of government. There have indeed been a number of advances and success stories in recent years. Those achievements include:

  • In 2003, only 2% of children and adults in Sub-Saharan Africa had access to antiretroviral therapy. In 2008, that number had grown to 44%. [ii]
  • In terms of mother-to-child transmission, great strides have been made. In 2004, only 9% of pregnant women received antiretroviral therapy. In 2008, 45% of pregnant women received the necessary treatment. [iii]
  • Between 2000 and 2007, a trend towards safer sex was noticed in South Africa (the country with the largest number of population living with HIV) following a succession of public awareness campaigns. [iv]
  • In 2010, clinical trials held in the US for a daily pill that could prevent HIV, taken faithfully, proved 90% effective.[v] Though this treatment still needs to be tested further, it has the potential to be a major breakthrough in prevention tactics.

The fact is, there is no need for metaphors, similes, or exaggerations. The numbers speak for themselves. Though my writing may not change anything directly, it might inspire someone to learn more about the subject, and to express their own opinion. It is only through mass awareness and education that things will begin to change, however slowly that may be.

[i] UNAIDS. Data Fact Sheet: Sub-Saharan Africa.2009.
Available at: http://www.unaids.org:80/en/media/unaids/contentassets/dataimport/pub/factsheet/2009/20091124_fs_ssa_en.pdf

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] Ibid.

[iv] Ibid.

[v] Donald G. McNeil Jr. “Daily Pill Greatly Lowers AIDS Risk, Study Finds”. The New York Times. November 23rd 2010.
Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/24/health/research/24aids.html?scp=4&sq=AIDS&st=cse

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4 Responses to “Africa Is Dying Slowly Revisited”

  1. Clair Govin says:

    There’s noticeably a bundle to learn about this.

  2. Clarence Chew says:

    Thanks Britney!

  3. Clarence Chew says:

    Absolutely Clair, which is why we’re blogging up a storm!

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