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AIDS in Africa


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Iulia Pariniuc

Stoneleigh-Burnham School

Posted on 05/27/01


AIDS is becoming one of the most important problems of the modern world.
According to “AIDS Epidemic Update 2000” and the World Health
Organization (WHO), the current number of people living with HIV or AIDS
is 36.1 million, more than 50% higher than predicted in 1991. And this
number is increasing every day, hour and minute. The greatest number of
inhabitants sick with AIDS or HIV live in Africa. Over17 million
Africans have already died of AIDS-three times the number of AIDS deaths
in the rest of the world, orphaning 10 million or more African children.
“The AIDS situation in Africa is catastrophic and sub-Saharan Africa
continues to head the list as the world’s most affected region,” said
Peter Piot, Executive Director of UNAIDS. According to his report,
estimated 3.8 million people became infected with HIV in sub –Saharan
Africa during the year, bringing the total number of people living with
HIV/AIDS in the region to 25.3 million, or almost a million more than in

The reason of such great spread of the disease is inadequate level of
living and absence of needed education. According to WHO, more than 50%
of African population does not live a safe sexual life, and the increase
of number of drugs deteriorate the problem. For example, according to
Ministry of Health statistics, 2.2 million Kenyans are ill with HIV,
with average 500 deaths every day.

African medics do not want to show medical results to their patients and
to the government. They say that they do not reveal HIV results to
prevent the patients from fear of bad news. “Some patients literally die
hopelessly before their eyes”, they said. “Another problem is that when
some patients learn they are HIV positive, they go on their rampage,
despite the counseling we give them, said Matulumbu, an HIV/AIDS
specialist. The doctor, like his colleagues, said a number of patients
even took loans while others mortgaged family assets to use the money to
spread the disease. Such patients left their families double dilemma.
Dr. Matulumbu said: ”We are facing a serious problem because medics are
not trained on how to counsel HIV patients, yet we are expected to be a
counselor and a doctor at the same time.”

The patients, HIV and AIDS positive express discontent about the
doctors curing them. If the owner of the factory, a sick African is
working for, finds out that the worker is sick, he automatically dismiss
him from his work job. The owners of the companies do not want to deal
with insurance of sick workers, and do not want to employ HIV/ADIS
patients. The reality is sad, but it is true. Patients hide their
results of HIV/AIDS tests, and it is difficult to determine the number
of sick Africans.

AIDS is not a disease that can be either determined or cured. The real
number of people with HIV positive is not known. Some of them do not
want to talk about the disease, others simply do not know they are sick.

To help in preventing AIDS, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in his

o help in preventing AIDS, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in his
speech at UN conference for Least Developed Countries, proposed to
organize a global AIDS fund to sponsor the fight against AIDS. The
world’s wealthy nations are allegedly holding off donations to a
proposed UN global health fund, arguing, there are not enough guarantees
that the money would be spend correctly, the Associated Press said on
May 19, 2001. Reporting from the UN conference for Least Developed
Countries in Brussels, AP said that "many countries" remained skeptical
about UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's proposed US $7-10 billion fund
to fight the spread of AIDS and other infectious diseases. It quoted
Poul Nielson, the European Union's (EU) development commissioner as
asking: "What will this fund do better than what we are doing now?". "If
we are just talking about a global AIDS fund, we will not participate.
It is too narrow," he added. The EU reportedly wants the fund to include
other transmittable diseases and tie it to providing cheaper drugs for
poorer countries.

The United States is the only large country to contribute to the global
fund so far, pledging US $200 million last week. That contribution was
criticized by, among others, the US-based Health Gap Coalition as
"paltry". The coalition called for Washington to allocate US $2 billion
in new money. (See www.healthgap.org)

Annan said on Thursday in Geneva that the proposed fund would be a
major tool for economic growth in the developing countries. He said that
plans for the fund are progressing. He noted that the fund should be
governed by an independent board, made up of stakeholders including
governments from both donor and developing countries, NGOs, the private
sector and the United Nations. The running of the fund should be done
through a small secretariat, which would draw on a technical advisory
body made up of international experts in the fields of health and
development. Addressing concerns that the proposed fund would pull money
away from existing health programs, Annan stressed that the fund must be
additional to existing funds and mechanisms, not just a new way of
channeling money that is already earmarked for development.

Although working, the efforts of the United Nations are not enough
without actual financial support they ask for. There is still a great
need in money and people to fight AIDS in African countries. The UN
pledges for the support from economically developed countries to help
less developed ones. It is extremely important that the society fights
this crucial disease, for it does not belong only to Africans, but to
all the inhabitants of the earth. Therefore it is everyone’s problem.
People with HIV/AIDS did not choose to be sick. It is time to start
helping them before it is too late.

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