How Can We In The West  Help?

The HIV/AIDS Epidemic in Africa

According to a study by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) published in 2008, there are almost 24 million people in Africa who are infected with the virus. In recent years, that number has leveled off, and has even begun to decline, although very slowly. In an effort to keep the number of new cases declining, most countries should be implementing more funds for prevention, however; so much is being allocated to care and treatment, that it's nearly impossible.

Since there is no cure for HIV/AIDS, one of the better preventative solutions would be to try to educate as many school aged young adults as possible about the virus, how it spreads, and how it's contracted. Unfortunately, there is quite a way to go yet, as over half of those questioned still do not know about HIV/AIDS, or how to prevent themselves from contracting it.

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Sadly, two million of the HIV/AIDS cases are children under the age of fifteen, and almost all of them were the result of mother-to-child transmission (MTCT). Effective steps being implemented to prevent MTCT include making HIV testing available in more places; providing antiretrovirals to pregnant mothers; performing Caesarean sections to prevent children from coming in contact with their mother's blood, and making breast-milk substitutes more available.

Currently, the only way to control HIV/AIDS is to take antiretrovirals (ARVS), which work by preventing the virus from multiplying and destroying the immune system. For the maximum benefit, it's recommended that up to three or four ARVS be taken at one time, as the virus has less of a chance to develop a resistance to a combination of drugs. Unfortunately, these drugs have to be taken every day for the rest of a personís life and can be quite costly to those in low-income countries.

If it weren't for international aid from countries such as America, Africa would surely be losing itís battle. America has stepped in and allocated 6.5 billion of our 2010 HIV/AIDS budget to be used for global assistance, in addition to allocating more funds for research in America.

In conclusion, the best strategy for preventing the epidemic of HIV/AIDS from taking any more lives is to continue to set higher goals for communities such as adding more educational programs for children and continuing to expand the care and treatment services already in place. Although there is no cure, continual progress is being made in the development of antiretrovirals, and perhaps one day treating this disease will become more effective and affordable.

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