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The HIV/AIDS pandemic in the current world is known to have arrived at disastrous proportions in Africa as a Continent. Studies conducted have indeed indicated that in the last two decades, two thirds of more than 16 million individuals in the globe are infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus or HIV that is known to cause the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) dwell in the sub-Saharan Africa. The HIV/AIDS scourge has, therefore, been known to be home to people who are largely infected with it, with seventy per cent (70%) of the HIV infected population in the world. The problem with this social issue that has been known to be a continuous tragedy in the continent of Africa is that the continent, (Africa) is one of the continents in the whole world that is least equipped with resources to cope or deal with challenges which are posed by the HIV/AIDS scourge. In order to better understand or comprehend the economic and social consequences of HIV/AIDS, it is vital to observe and study the relationship between the global response, poverty and the effectiveness of strategies aimed at preventing AIDS, both at grass root and government levels. About half of the world’s HIV/AIDS cases are prevalent in what is known as the AIDS belt, which includes a chain of nations in both Southern and Eastern Africa, which is known to be home for 2% of the world’s population. The argument is however whether the prevalence of the HIV/AIDS Scourge is a as a result of cultural practices that are prevalent in the continent of Africa (Kalipeni 2004:150).
The prevalence of HIV/AIDS has been indicated or named to be a world epidemic with the toll of the scourge being felt significantly in Africa as a continent due to its cultural practices. Apart from being a worldwide public health concern, the prevalence of the HIV/AIDS scourge has also been known to be a major cause of most deaths that are reported worldwide. Due to its impacts, it has posed grave risks to future generations, because of deaths that are resultant from its impacts and prevalence in the societies in Africa and the world as a whole (Lliffe 47). The most active group, which is known to comprise young people, is known to be the most affected in Africa and the rest of the world, thus, leaving the old people to take care of the young siblings left behind due to HIV/AIDS related deaths. A major occurrence of the HIV/AIDS scourge in Africa can better be reflected through the orphans and widows who are left behind in villages struggling though all means, in order to make ends meet. This is due to a result of a change in cultural practices which has made the young become to become more exposed to the virus because of increased sexual activities (World Bank et al 2000:50).
According to statistics obtained from various studies that have been conducted, it can be clearly depicted that indeed, Africa is the most affected with the HIV/AIDS scourge due to its cultural practices. The situation is further worsened through the high levels of poverty that are prevalent in most parts of the African continent. According to statistics obtained from the World Health Organization (WHO), it is indicated that out of the 34.4 million individuals in the world living with the HIV/AIDS virus, 24 million out of the 34.3 million people are known to live or dwell in Sub-Saharan Africa. This is, therefore, enough proof that indeed, most of the individuals having HIV are known to live in the African continent (UNAIDS 2006). Research further indicates that 19 million individuals have succumbed to death, as a result of the AIDS virus which is known to be deadly, and that out of this figure; 3.8 million were children who were aged below 15 years. The situation is further aggravated by the fact that out of the 5.4 million cases of HIV reported in the whole world in the year 1999, 4 million of these people were based or lived in Africa. This is a clear indicator that more people will continue being infected with the virus in the continent due to cultural practices as the time goes by.
The main mechanisms through which HIV is spread among human beings in Africa and other parts of the world are through heterosexual intercourse resulting from a change in cultural practices. However, this is in contrast to the United States of America, whereby the HIV virus is mostly known to be transmitted through contaminated syringes which are normally shared by drug abusers or users and through homosexual intercourse. Besides the spread of HIV through heterosexual intercourse, it is also known to be transmitted through the use of contaminated medical equipment and blood transfusions, a phenomenon that is common in the sub-Saharan Africa. Compared to the rest of the world, most Africans who are diagnosed with the HIV virus are known to die earlier, as opposed to other individuals (Hunter 2003:40).
Taking risks which are known to greatly increase the chances or opportunities of contracting the HIV virus are particularly higher in African women who are known to have few options which can help them to support their families and themselves. This is because of cultural practices which forbid them to have more positive and helpful options. Such women, as a result, are forced to engage in immoral activities which render them to become unprotected against the infection of HIV/AIDS. In addition, unequal power structures, low standards of living and health, and the absence of HIV prevention and protection strategies are all known to contribute to or enhance towards the continuous spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa. This has, therefore, increased the problems of individuals who are afflicted and affected by the HIV/AIDS scourge. A viscous cycle is created due to the situation of the HIV/AIDS scourge in Africa, which has continued to change and influence the environment of increasing the spreading of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Unless the aggressive strategies or actions are implemented with a view of responding to the HIV/AIDS threats, then it is obvious that the pandemic will continue weakening individuals who are already suffering from it (Cichocki et al 2012:2).
Statistics released in 1999 indicated that out of the 2.8 million deaths which were known to be caused due to AIDS, 2.4 million of the deaths that were recorded were in Africa as a continent. It is, therefore, a fact that effects related with HIV/AIDS will continue to prevail with individuals being affected and infected with the impacts resulting from the prevalence of the HIV virus in Africa and the world as a whole (UNAIDS 2006). Young people, with special reference to children, are known to be the people who bear the largest blunt of this social problem. This is because of cultural practices which have subjected then to be left to fend for themselves when they are left behind by their parents as orphans. The situation is further worsened by the fact that out of the 13.2 million young people or children who are globally orphaned as a result of HIV/AIDS, 12.1 million of these children are in the continent of Africa.
The plight of children, as a result of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa, is reflected through the lack of proper and adequate advice and healthcare, due to the transition of their parents. Apart from taking care of their ailing parents, such children are also tasked with taking care of their young siblings. As a result, they (children) are forced to drop out of the educational institutions, in order to indulge in child labor to provide for the necessities of their dependants. In addition, the female children in Africa are forced to indulge in degrading actions like prostitution to provide for themselves and others as well (Shah Paragraph 8). This can be attributed to a change in traditional cultural practices which do not forbid such young people from indulging in such indecent acts. Most individuals in the African continent have also ended up using a lot of resources to treat opportunistic infections without realizing that they have contracted the HIV virus. For instance, individuals have struggled to heal Tuberculosis, which is a main infection in HIV/AIDS, without knowing the cause behind it.
A major problem of the HIV/AIDS in Africa is the stigma emanating from the family members and the rest of the society. Family members and the society in general are known to stigmatize against people who are affected by the HIV/AIDS scourge, as they struggle to provide for themselves diets and medicines. This situation differs from earlier cultural practices in which the society cared for the sick. Some family members in some African societies are, therefore, known to cast out people having HIV/AIDS with claims that such individuals are bewitched, and therefore, do not fit to exist in the societies. More problems in such African societies arise when such individuals are condemned to death at the earliest opportunity. For the infected people in Africa, the purchasing of anti-retroviral medications has been unavailable, too expensive and, thus, unaffordable to many of them who may want to live comfortable lives in the society. Apart from that, such patients for them are a necessity to consume foods having balanced diets, in order to live properly. However, such a requirement is a dream for most of the HIV/AIDS patients, since apart from the food being unaffordable; it is also unavailable to most of them who are supposed to work very hard, in order to earn a living. It is also a common fact that most people in Africa live on less than one dollar per day, thus, living below the poverty line (Lliffe 52).
The spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa is further worsened by the wife inheritance practices. Such cultural practices have greatly accounted for the high rate of the HIV/AIDS scourge in Africa. This calls for the need for behavior change among the members of societies in Africa to avoid such unwelcoming behaviors, which are known to significantly contribute to the spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa. The HIV/AIDS menace has continued to rip the lives of citizens in Africa, because of lack of a political will among the leaders of nations in the continent. Most African governments have borrowed so much money from international donors to the extent that they are incapable of handling and reducing the national disasters, like, for instance, HIV/AIDS in their countries. Such nations have been known to depend on international organizations, like, for instance, UNAIDS, UNICEF, WHO, donors and other well wishers for all sorts of assistance to counter the prevalence of the HIV/AIDS scourge in their countries. The deep rooted prevalence of corruption in most African countries makes such finances aimed at combating the HIV/AIDS scourge to be squandered through other futile expenses. The widows and the orphans who are infected and affected by the HIV/AIDS scourge are, therefore, left to die at the mercy of this cruel pandemic.
There has been a reduction of life expectancy in Africa, and even the rest of the world with an average life expectancy approximated to be below 50 years. This has, therefore, created the negative impacts not only on people, but social systems as well. Because of the HIV/AIDS scourge, young people aged between 20-49 years have succumbed to death. In conclusion, it can, therefore, be well ascertained that the impacts arising from the prevalence of HIV/AIDS scourge range from the education sector, households, health sector, the work place, the education sector, children, life expectancy and the economy in general and not as a result of Africa’s cultural practices. All impacts stemming from the existence of the HIV/AIDS scourge in Africa and the rest of the world are negative, and thus, every effort should be made to control them. Cultural practices should not be termed to be the major cause of HIV/AIDS in Africa (Karim et al 2010:400).
The HIV/AIDS scourge has negatively weighed down on various advances made in the African nation. As a result, everything should be done to implement solutions, aimed at reducing the scourge. This will include the use of Abstinence, Being faithful and use of Condoms (ABC) campaigns in African nations and other parts of the world. People in African nations should, therefore, change the sexual behaviors, in order to avoid deaths resulting from HIV/AIDS. Voluntary Counseling and Testing Centers (VCT) should be availed among populations to help them know their HIV status. This will ensure that only old cases are dealt with, while reducing the rate of new infections. Bad cultures and practices that increase the infection of HIV/AIDS should also be discouraged among the African populations (Fourier 2006:45).