HIV/Aids is a major public health concern and cause of death in many parts of Africa. Alt-hough the continent is home to about 15.2 percent of the world’s population,Sub-Saharan Africa alone accounted for an estimated 70 percent of all people living with HIV and 70 per-cent of all AIDS deaths in 2011.
Countries in North Africa and the Horn of Africa have significantly lower prevalence rates, as their populations typically engage in fewer high-risk cultural patterns that have been implicat-ed in the virus’s spread in Sub-Saharan Africa. Southern Africa is the worst affected region on the continent. As of 2011, HIV has infected at least 10 percent of the population in Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. In response, a number of initiatives have been launched in various parts of the continent to educate the public on HIV/AIDS. Among these are combination prevention programmes, considered to be the most effective initiative, “The abstinence, be faithful, use a condom campaign, and the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation’s programs.
“HIV has caused immense human suffering in the continent. The most obvious effect has been illness and death, but the impact has not been confined to the health sector; households, schools, workplaces and economies have also been badly affected.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, people with HIV-related diseases occupy more than half of all hospital beds. Large numbers of healthcare professionals are being directly affected. Botswana, for example, lost 17% of its healthcare workforce due to AIDS between 1999 and 2005.
The toll of HIV and AIDS on households can be very severe. It is often the poorest sectors of society that are most vulnerable. In many cases AIDS causes the household to dissolve, as parents die and children are sent to relatives for care and upbringing. Much happens before this dissolution takes place: AIDS strips families of their assets and income earners, further impoverishing the poor. The epidemic adds to food insecurity in many areas, as agricultural work is neglected or abandoned due to household illness. Almost invariably, the burden of coping rests with women. Upon a family member becoming ill, the role of women as carers, income-earners and housekeepers is stepped up. They are often forced to step into roles outside their homes as well. Older people are also heavily affected by the epidemic; many have to care for their sick children and are often left to look after orphaned grandchildren.
It is hard to overemphasise the trauma and hardship that children are forced to bear. As par-ents and family members become ill, children take on more responsibility to earn an income, produce food, and care for family members. More children have been orphaned by AIDS in Africa than anywhere else. Many children are now raised by their extended families and some are even left on their own in child-headed households. As access to treatment is slowly expanded throughout the continent, millions of lives are being extended and hope is being given to people who previously had none. Unfortunately though, the majority of people in need of treatment are still not receiving it, and campaigns to prevent new infections are lacking in many areas.”*
*Summery of an article written by AVERT: “The Impact of HIV & AIDS in Africa”