Background on AIDS

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The number of people infected by Human immunodeficiency virus infection / acquired immunodeficiency syndrome or HIV/AIDS is growing at an alarming rate in populous Asian and African countries. This pandemic, which was first reported in 1981, has caused 30 million deaths within 30 years due to AIDS-related problems. In 2012, there are 34 million people reportedly living with HIV.

In 2011, there were about 2.4 million newly reported infections globally. That means that there are 7000 people being infected with the disease each day. Most of the affected households belong to the poorest of the poor in Asian and African continents. The UN Global Fund seeks to address the situation by allotting more than $13.2M of its budget, along with independent and private donations that aim to help reverse the spread of AIDS.

This wide-spreading disease impacts the entire world in a lot of ways that are mainly political, religious, and economic. Since its discovery more than three decades ago, AIDS has been changing worldviews about the relationship of health to the growth of afflicted countries with existing sets of beliefs and traditions. At the same time, the spread of the disease caused dramatic effects on how affected nations project the future for their citizens. Because of the disease’s wide-reaching effects, the United Nations included the reverse of spread of HIV by 2015 in its Millennium Development Goals or MDGs.

How exactly is the world affected by AIDS?

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Here are some of the devastating effects of this disease.

Figure 2Households

The most affected families are often those that do not have a lot of options for their means of living. With the death of males in the family due to AIDS, women and children are forced to provide their households the basic needs. This is a problem in countries that have many male-dominated industries – when the heads of the families get sick, women are forced to leave homes and work in industries such as carpentry or farming. In a lot of countries affected by AIDS, women are still viewed to be in charge of housework.

Families are being pushed to poverty because of this sickness. Because both parents are often HIV-victims in Africa, children, especially girls, are being pulled out of schools to add to the household’s workforce. Because both parents are not available to work for the family, children have a hard time providing the basic needs of the household, such as nutrition for younger siblings, medical needs for parents, and housing. Because of AIDS, children in Africa and other affected countries are orphaned and left to be cared for by their states.

Households looking to survive from AIDS are often devastated by massive debts in order to afford health care. In certain cases, women of the households are forced to enter the sex trade industry, which makes them more prone to getting the disease. Alarming news about children being sold to white slavery to help provide income to their family also tells that this creates younger victims of the disease, apart from mother-to-child transfer.

Two-thirds of reported patients living with HIV cases are living in the sub-Saharan region of Africa. This region only accounts for 10% of the world’s population.

Adverse Economic Effects

The labor force is one of the sectors widely affected by the spread of AIDS, which is evident in sub-Saharan countries where the disease is prevalent. With the spread of disease, adults, especially husbands and wives, are not fit to work. This affects the major industries that depend on blue-collar labor, like industries responsible for the production of food, housing, precious diamond jewelry, and clothing. Productivity is highly impacted by rising number of absent employees, due to forced early retirement or death. With enterprises being not able to meet the demand, world market soon decrease the demand to get products from the most afflicted nations. At the same time, countries that suffer from growing number of AIDS victims suffer from a huge tourism decline, as other countries that can help with investment and capital view the risks that they could take part of, even if these countries can offer low-cost labor.

South African countries experience a huge loss of profits, which amounts to about 10%. 40% of companies in these countries report that their businesses suffer because of HIV/AIDS cases. At the same time, only 13% of companies have a company policy that will allow people with HIV/AIDS gain employment.

The Worldwide Impact of AIDS

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The Health Scenario

As poor countries are often the most affected by the spread of the disease, many nations are not able to provide the needed amount of health care for affected citizens. In sub-Saharan parts, governments are reported to only have the capacity of providing $300 worth of aid per person per year. At the same time, since HIV/AIDS patients stay loner inside the hospital than other patients with different diseases, it is estimated that patients with this disease will soon be using up to 70% of allowed expenses of hospitals in the region.

Healthcare professionals also suffer the toll of the disease. Healthcare workers are put in a danger zone by dealing with too many patients during their stay. At the same time, they are also subjected to additional training needed to administer antiretrovival drugs (ARVs). While these drugs provide hope to slow down the progress of HIV to becoming AIDS, many available health workers are not equipped to administer these to the patients.

Effects on the Individual

A person living with HIV/AIDS is more often a person living with the worldwide stigma. As South and South East Asia are the secondary regions that are affected by this pandemic, victims of the disease are affected by existing religious beliefs and political settings.

One of Asia’s main religions is Catholicism, and with the existing stand of the Catholic Church to oppose the use of birth control products such as condoms, people become prone to sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS.

In other countries, certain viewpoints about the disease remain unchanged. As the first cases of AIDS are associated with homosexual transmission, gay men are being put under stigma that they are afflicted with the disease. At the same time, there are a huge number of people who are uninformed about how the disease spreads think that people who gets physical contact with a patient will get the disease as well, from close encounters with a bartender to swimming in a pool.

One classic example of this stigma is experienced by Ryan White, who got the infection due to a contaminated blood treatment to help him deal with hemophilia. White, who was a teenager then, was banned from attending school as parents and faculty of Western Middle School (located in Russiaville) rallied against his attendance after his diagnosis was known. Indiana Court ruled against the banning, as Howard County’s health office deemed him fit to attend school. White became a poster boy and national spokesman for young AIDS victims.

The Global Impact

Because of the continued spread of the disease, all countries around the globe will soon bear the impacts of AIDS. Experts note that this burden will be carried by developing countries in the coming years, as the expenses for AIDS are projected to become much larger, if the combined initiatives are not able to reverse its spread by 2015.

It is important to note that while areas that are heavily impacted by AIDS are in sub-Saharan regions and in some parts of Asia, the treatment and funding for discovery of deterrents that are more effective come from foreign aid. Countries that are affected by the disease will soon have to hold on to financial help of other countries, and if the disease is not stopped or slowed, it will drain considerable amount of resources.

What You Can Do About AIDS

Having increased awareness about the spread of AIDS has far-reaching effects already. Being able to stop open discrimination against victims of the disease can help spread knowledge about the disease and how one can protect himself against contamination.

While this disease is discovered in the 1980s, Kaiser Family Foundation reports that more than 25% of the adults they surveyed believe that they can be contaminated by AIDS by sharing a glass of water with a patient. A lot of government broadcasts and educational ads have belied this; however, the situation is still the same.

Spreading the right information about HIV/AIDS empower people to become proactive in the worldwide campaigns against the spread of the disease and care of those who suffered from the disease the most. You can participate in various programs that seek to educate people about the disease, and at the same time, raise funds to help families that deal with the pandemic.

Is the Future Looking Better?

Thanks to the support of UN-affiliated nations, private individuals, and non-government organizations, the spread of AIDS have significantly diminished in the recent years, compared to its record spread rate during the 90s and early 2000s. The future of the countries dealing with AIDS offers a bright promise, if the spread rate of the disease continues to decline. The United Nations and the World Health Organization, together with various volunteers all over the world, continues to provide support to sub-Saharan Africa and other regions that are heavily affected by the disease.