HIV/AIDS in Africa essay


The human immunodeficiency virus was firstly identified in the laboratories in the early 80-ies of the 20th century, while the history of its origin is still fairly unknown. In fact, there are different versions about it. Nevertheless, all of the versions are somehow connected to Africa, where the epidemic began around the late 1970's - early 1980-ies. In the last decades HIV/AIDS has become one of the most critical issues of the socio-economic and demographic development of the Third World countries. According to the UN, at the end of 2014 there was estimated 36.1 million HIV/AIDS infected people worldwide. However, it should be noted that the vast majority of them, i.e. 25.3 million people (or 70%) live in Africa. Meanwhile, only 12.5% of the world population lives in Africa. It means that three-quarters of 22 million deaths caused by AIDS worldwide live in Africa.


Thus, taking into account the mentioned above, the following paper is aimed to discuss Why HIV/AIDS has spread more rapidly in Africa than in the United States as well as define the role of heterosexual transmission in Africa.

HIV/AIDS in Africa

The risk group includes people who have sexual relations with the various partners of both sexes. Due to the unlimited sexual relations, the virus spread and took the dramatic position among the majority of the population. It means that in contrast to other countries, the spread of HIV in Africa is mainly caused by the sexual contacts. The drug addiction in the region has less influence onto HIV/AIDS spread than the behavior associated with the frequent change of sexual partners.

In addition, it should be noted that mothers infect the two-thirds of infants at the moment of birth. Although such infection is theoretically possible to prevent, it is quite expensive (about $ 3,000 per case prevented) and is practiced only in the rich countries and among the wealthy patients in Africa. Thus, such way of combating the spread of AIDS is practically inapplicable in African countries due to lack of funds. Even the healthy born babies are frequently infected during breastfeeding. Unfortunately, few women, knowing that they or their partner belong to the carriers of the virus, decide to avoid pregnancy so that the birth of the infected children certainly continues. HIV-infection always develops to AIDS within about one to several years. The infected people die of various diseases, mostly malignant. The mentioned above proves that the disease leads to the death as the human body cannot overcome it due to the loss of immunity.

In Africa the most heavily affected by HIV / AIDS were countries located to the south of the Sahara. The population of these countries is characterized by extreme poverty, poor health and low rate of literacy. They are characterized by the depressed and powerless situation of women and political instability. 95% of all infected patients on the African continent were located in these countries, while about 3 million of such people have already died.

In the early years of the spread of the disease has been observed that AIDS often strikes to the more wealthy people with higher than the average income. This was confirmed by studies held in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda. This is caused due to the fact that the wealthy people meet more different people and have the ability to pay for intimate relationships with the diversity of contacts. Most of the wealthy people picked up HIV in the early and mid '80s, when knowledge about the disease and its prevention were in the initial stage. Today, the risk of getting HIV/AIDS for the wealthy is lower because they have realized the benefits of education, income, access to information. The rich people increasingly resort to the prevention, and now HIV/AIDS is a disease mainly of the poorest population.

Some social norms rooted traditions such as multiple concurrent partnerships significantly contribute to the spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa. In some countries the traditional polygamy took the form of formal and informal marriages and extramarital relations, based on a specific agreement among the sexual partners. In addition, the spread of HIV infection is affected by the traditional custom of levirate. It pushes a widow to marry her husband's brother or at least to cohabit with him.

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According to the surveys conducted by the UN experts, 97% of 238 HIV-positive women have hidden the disease from their partners fearing of public condemnation, divorce or scandal. Often husbands insist on the child's birth even knowing that they are the carriers of the virus. The women usually go at it, being afraid of losing the husband. For these reasons, and because of the biological characteristics of the organism, the number of the women infected with HIV are 2 million more than the number of the infected men in the modern Africa. The virus is more effectively transmitted from man to woman. The complex social and economic conditions and conventions limit women's ability to negotiate with the men the question of the safe sex and thereby protect themselves from the likelihood of the infection. The gender discrimination is clearly manifested in these situations. Thus, women dominate as carriers of infection (55% of HIV-infected people in Africa are women). Such statistics is also contributed by the fact that the majority of sex workers are infected as a result of their profession.

The extramarital affairs of men are contributed by the custom of the mother's breast-feeding a newborn to two years with the ban on the marital sex during such period. Thus, the variety of men gets on the partner on the side. In addition, the attitude to the chastity of women varies greatly in different countries in Africa. For example, in Togo and Burundi chastity is highly valued. Contrary, in the Central African and C?te d'Ivoire-d'I, Kenya, Guinea-Bissau, the unmarried men and women can have a free sexual relations.

The prevalence of HIV / AIDS among African countries is quite uneven. In most of the countries the proportion of virus carriers among the adult population (15-49 years) has reached and exceeded 20%. It should be mentioned that among the 15% of the infected adult population no less than 1/3 of modern teenagers will die of AIDS in the working age.

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Nowadays, Botswana ranks the first place in the world in terms of HIV prevalence. The proportion of infected in the country exceeds 35%. In Botswana, at least 2/3 of those who are now 15 years old will die prematurely from AIDS. The second and third places are occupied by Zimbabwe and Swaziland, with up to one quarter of the adult population infected by HIV. It means that in the future the death from AIDS will cover half of the total infected population, who are now 15 years old.

According to UN data, the countries with a high proportion of HIV carriers and AIDS infected people (over 10%) include Kenya, C?te d'Ivoire, South Africa Mozambique, Zambia, Rwanda, Lesotho, Namibia, Central African Republic, Malawi, Burundi. Another group of countries such as Sudan, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Niger, Mali, Angola belong to the countries with moderate (by African standards) epidemic. In its infancy the disease is observed in Egypt, Algeria, Libya, Mauritania and several others. No data is available on Tunisia as well as small island states.


Africa belongs to the places with high rate of HIV/AIDS infection. The current state of the disease spread is primarily caused due to the traditions of the free sexual relations among the partners. In addition, the high rate HIV/AIDS infection is transmitted from the mothers to children. The rate of the infected women is higher compared to the rate of the infected men. The poor are more likely to be infected by HIV/AIDS due to the lack of the knowledge and resources for the disease prevention.

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HIV/AIDS in Africa essay

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