HIV/AIDS in Africa – How Big is the Issue?


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Of the total number of people affected by HIV/Aids world-wide, two- third are from sub-Saharan Africa, even though this region is only 10% of global population. HIV/Aids in the African continent have given rise to massive human suffering. Although illness and death are the most noticeable effects of this epidemic, the impact of the crisis is not confined to the health sector only; economies, workplaces, schools, and households ,to mention a few, have had their share of AIDS ugly effects. The year 2009 alone saw an estimated 1.3 million children and adults in the continent sent to their graves as a result of AIDS. One can only appreciate the bigness of this issue when its impact in some of these sectors are closely looked into.

HIV/Aids impact on the health sector gets worse by the day. Despite the high demand for health services as a result of this crisis, health-care professionals are not spared by the epidemic. For instance, 17% of Botswana’s health-care workforce died from AIDS between 1999 and 2005. There is now scarcity of health-care workers in most countries in the continent. To make matter worse, the number of the available health workers is decreasing by the day by reason of poor pay, excessive workloads, and migration to European and North American countries for greener pastures.

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The impact of HIV/Aids has greatly affected households in the continent. Often, households dissolve after the death of parents to this disease. In many cases, relatives take responsibility for the care and upbringing of children left by the deceased parents. Apart from the dissolution of families, AIDS strips households of their valuable assets as well as income earners, thus impoverishing the poor the more.

The role played by AIDS in reversing human development in the continent is not insignificant. The economy of Africa is a good example in point. Most economies in Africa have been grossly damage by this epidemic, making it difficult for countries to adequately address the crisis. One way these economies get affected is by the reduction in labor supply as a result of the increased number of able body men and women who fall ill or die by reason of AIDS. Government of African countries suffer great lost in income, as increased mortality and illness results in fall in tax revenues. Governments expenditure on curtailing the epidemic also strains their purses. With AIDS induced fall in labor supply, the cost of labor increases thus making it difficult for these countries to attract foreign investments. Indeed, AIDS impact on these economies is difficult to measure. With most of the economies already struggling with debt, declining trade and development challenges before the emergence of HIV/AIDS, one does not need a prophet to know that the situation will get worse

Although there have been increase in the number of people having access to antiretroviral treatment in the continent , more than half of those in need of treatments are yet to be attended to. With all these in mind, it may not be wrong to say that the HIV/AIDS epidemic in African will remain a big issue for many years to come expect right measures are put in place.

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