IN A Time of Need
"Everyday lost is a day in when 10,000 more people become infected with AID." - Kofi Annan
Seventeen million people are dead. Twenty-five million more have the same death sentence hanging over their heads. An entire continent is held captive by the fear of this killing machine. By the year 2010 life expectancy on this continent will have plummeted to the levels found at the beginning of the last century. This phenomenon is described as pandemic, a word formed from the Greek roots "pan" meaning all and "dem" meaning people. It is affecting all people and it will continue to do so unless drastic steps are taken right now to break the stranglehold that this killer has over a whole continent.
No word more fully describes the effects of the AIDS virus in Africa then pandemic. The statistics speak for themselves. Entire generations are dying in their beds; entire generations are growing up as orphans living day to day in extreme poverty hoping and praying that this deadly disease won't find them. The United States and other United Nations countries have already contributed millions of dollars in aid to Africa. The money has been spent, through a variety of different programs, to purchase drugs, condoms, fund AIDS awareness education and ultimately stop the spread of AIDS in Africa. But it has not been enough. These programs and the economic aid have clearly fallen well short of what is required to defeat this disease. AIDS has continued to spread all over the continent at an alarming rate. The United States must set an example by refusing to succumb to pessimism and refusing to consider Africa a "lost cause." The United States must now take the lead and increase aid to Africa as well as re-evaluate the programs that are currently in place.
In Africa AIDS is not just a disease. It is part of a vicious cycle that keeps Africa in extreme poverty. AIDS places a huge economic strain on countries where the virus is found. Huge sums of money are spent for treatment and medication, prevention and education. If a family has one member with AIDS it decreases income by an average of 50%, due to lost wages and any money spent on treatment. In addition to the money being spent by countries as a result of AIDS, countries where AIDS is prevalent are also faced with declining Gross National Products because of who AIDS is affecting. In Botswana, because of the AIDS epidemic, the life expectancy has plummeted to only forty years and their infant mortality rate has increased 122% compared to years past. Much of the population Botswana is dying or is confined to beds at what should be their prime working age and their children are dying at such a rate that future generations will be unable to fulfill the economic needs of the nation, plunging it further and further into poverty. Other nations in Africa have reported losing around 40% of their workforce every year. Every year 40% of the men and women responsible for the...