Of the 34 million people worldwide infected with HIV/AIDS, 22.9 million of them are from Sub-Saharan region of Africa. That’s 68%. When thinking about the AIDS epidemic, the stereotypical thought is Africa. Why is that so? There are several factors that lead to the bulk of the AIDS epidemic basing in Africa, in particularly the sub – Saharan area. It is impossible to conclude this question with one answer, but a combination of factors could contribute to the prevention of this disease.
Africa is well known as a poor region, with marginalisation and poverty being a growing issue and a concern. The HIV/AIDS epidemic could be seen as a result of this, but for matter of statement, a further look into the historical and geographical trends of people movement, population and slavery need to be considered.
In developed countries HIV/AIDS is seen as a homosexually transmitted disease, but in undeveloped countries, ie, Africa, the disease is primarily heterosexual, with the larger percentage of victims being young females. To this, there are several factors. The first is the cultural belief of women being the inferior; not having the right to say no. A personal example I can share is one from my Nepal trip. I was on one of the local buses getting back into the city. Being a typical lunch time bus, it was extremely crowded with little room to even breathe. It was so crowded that people were pushing up against the front of the bus. One woman was sitting close to the bus driver. Instead of politely asking the woman to move the bus driver turned around and shoved the woman out of his space. The inferiority to women was made clear. This inferiority has made it difficult for girls and women to demand safer sex and to end relationships that carry the threat of infection. Studies have shown that young women in these undeveloped regions tend to marry older men as they serve as social and financial security as well as a satisfier to their materialistic aspirations. The problem that this then presents with the HIV/AIDS spread is the increase of risk infection.
Another factor that contributes to the HIV/AIDS epidemic severity in Africa is the ignorance towards sexual health. A clear example of the difference between undeveloped and developed countries in the way of sex education is the use of well known slogans.
And sadly, a big leading contributor to the severity of HIV/AIDS in undeveloped countries is the lack of funds to pay for medication. Although there is no one given answer as to why Africa is so highly affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, there are several insights that combined give an insight and a way in which we, as the first world can make a difference.
Barnett, T and Whiteside, A.(2002) AIDS in the Twenty-First Century. Great Britain, Antony Rowe Ltd.
Edited by: Gibney, L, DiClemente, R and Vermund, S. (1999) Preventing HIV in Developing Countries. Kluwer Academic/ Plenum Publishers, New York.
Willis, E. (2011) Chapter 5: Structure and Critique: The Sociological Quest. Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest NSW. pp.102 – 105.