The HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa is out of control. To put the situation into perspective, three times the number of people who were killed in the Holocaust of WWII have already died of AIDS in Africa – 19 million (Census 2). The number of Africans who die on a daily basis from the disease is higher than all those killed in the terrorist attacks on the U.S. on September 11, 2002 – 6,000 (Census 2). Average life expectancy in Sub-Sahara Africa has dropped to 47 years from 62 years if the disease were not a factor (Rethinking 1). For a chart showing the complete breakdown by country of people infected with HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa as of 1999, see Appendix I.
In light of such overwhelming statistics, experts estimate that each year approximately $3 billion is required to pay for fundamental prevention, care, and treatment programs for HIV/AIDS in Africa (World 1). Money and others resources such as powerful anti-retroviral drugs are often blamed for the spread of the disease and untold suffering among millions. However, despite these factors playing a significant role in the development of the epidemic, it is also African leadership and African cultural beliefs and behaviors that make the disease difficult to manage. It is actually these factors that are least mentioned and significantly to blame that help keep the epidemic growing. Current estimates of the number of people who die annually of AIDS-related illnesses range between 6-9 million, with actual statistics available for 1999 reported in Appendix II (Wolfensohn A21).
Social & Cultural Challenges of the HIV/AIDS Epidemic
Before getting into the economic, health care infrastructure, drug access, and other issues that are partially responsible for the continuation of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa, it would be a mistake not to look at the social and cultural issues that also help maintain the disease. While many Africans understand that unprotected ...