It is a common scene in Africa for the oldest child in a family to be taking care of their younger siblings. There are also many children that are being taken care of by their elderly grandparents. Why is this common in Africa? One simple cause. AID/HIV. In 2008, there were an estimated 33.4 million people living with the virus. This caused two million deaths in 2008. That leaves many children with no parents. In contrast, the USA has about a half of a million people living with the virus. AIDS in the United States peaked during the 90’s but then declined. However, Africa has not been that lucky. It is said that the virus originality in Africa. So why are so many people dying from AIDS in Africa. Three major influences that keep this trend include lack of money, The Catholic Church, and social taboos.
Lack of money
It is no surprise to anyone the correlation between wealth and good healthcare. This subject hits many countries. However, looking at the African economics can show why this country has had a slow response to the AIDS/HIV epidemic. During the colonial era, Africa’s economics was more about those of noble blood or social elites. In the 60’s and 70’s there was an outreach of healthcare to try to correct this problem. However, Africa had an economic crisis in the 80’s that undid most of the progress that had been made. In the next decade, it is said that Africa was spreading more to pay back foreign debt then to spread healthcare and good education to their people. It is said that about half of the Africa population live without a good water supply.
Antiretroviral drugs (ARV) have been very effective for richer countries for those living with this deadly virus. Once a patient starts these drugs, they must be on them for the rest of their lives. It is hard enough to get the supply to Africa but getting an able supply is even harder.
The Catholic Church
It has been known for a long time that the Catholic religion is against any type of birth control. Since AIDS is a sexually transmitted disease, condoms would hinder the spread of the virus. However, in a report in 2007 by the BBC, the archbishop was quoting of saying “Condoms are not sure because I know that there are two countries in Europe, they are making condoms with the virus on purpose. He did not name these countries. He is also known for accusing the ARV drugs of being made from the virus. This attitude has lead to many people going against safe sex. It also has stopped many people from seeking treatment. Any religion can have severe influence on society.
Probably the leading cause of the AIDS virus epidemic in Africa is the social taboos associated with life and family topics. There is a taboo about HIV in many countries. It is so severe in Africa that a woman that admitted to being HIV positive on national television, during world AIDS day, was beaten by fellow villagers when she got home. Her name was Gugu Dlami She has become a popular face in the war against the virus. In some areas of Africa, it was believed by men that were infected that they could be cure of the virus by having sex with a virgin. Because of the social backlash, many people are afraid to be tested. They do not want to be seen at testing centers by others.
Violence against women is a very high thing in Africa. In a survey, more then four in ten men said they had raped a woman. Odds are good that the men doing the rape already have the AIDS virus. Women being treated so badly leads to them not wanting to ask for safe sex. This behavior puts many people at risk. The practice of polygamy (having more then one wife) is still legal in Africa. There is often an unspoken contest between the wives to bare the most children.
Due to the lack of birth control and the possible early child bearing of women, most families will have many children. It is also said that this trend is because of the high rate of infant and child mortality. Children and infants may die of AIDS because of mother to child transmission. In Rwanda, some in the society believe they must have many kids to replace the million of people that were killed in the genocide. This in turn decreases the use of birth control methods, which could decrease the HIV/AIDS spread.