The Cause and Effect of HIV in Africa
The ubiquitous acronym HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. It is a virus that gradually weakens the immune system until the body cannot fight off common infinitesimal infections such as pneumonia, diarrhea, the “flu”, and other illnesses. All of which can be part of the Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, the final stage of HIV that usually develops between 2 to 10 years after the infection. This infection is frequently transmitted through unprotected intercourse with someone who has already been affected with HIV and is an increasing problem in Africa. This study focuses mainly on the causes and effects of this virus in Africa.
HIV is an ongoing battle in many different parts of the world, but it has not affected any other country as strongly and perniciously than in Africa. Out of the 3 million AIDS deaths worldwide, 2.2 million deaths have occurred in Africa.
Although the condom is an effective way to prevent the infection of HIV, in many African societies, women are expected and taught to subordinate their own interest to those of their partners. Because of this, many African women feel powerless and give in to having sex for the fear that, if they refuse, they will be raped anyway. Results show that in most African countries, 40% of the young women in Kenya and in Cameroon are coerced or tricked into sexual intercourse. Since wife abuse is widespread, many women do not dare to bring up the topic of condoms for protection against HIV infection for the fear that they would be physically abused. (Women’s Status. July 29, 2005: www.infoforhealth.org/pr/112/112boxes.shtml)
In many African cultures, a strong emphasis is placed on having children. This leads to childhood marriage and early childbearing. Girls as young as the age of 10 are given to other men in marriage for strong friendship and economic ties between the families. Many of these girls are vulnerable to the HIV infection because most African
men practice polygamy, or the practice of a man having several wives. (Marriage Practices. July 29, 2005: www.infoforhealth.org/pr/112/112boxes.shtml)
If the mother is infected, their children are susceptible to the virus while growing in the womb during childbirth. Based on the research studies in Africa, breastfeeding can lead to an additional 10%-20% risk of HIV transmission. UN agencies recommend bottle feeding starting at birth for a mother who is infected with HIV. However, bottle feeding is only nutritionally adequate if it is safely prepared, given, and if an uninterrupted supply of alternative foods are available. In countries like Africa, the poor sanitation makes the bottle feeding risky and the high cost of formula feeding forces mothers to avoid bottle feeding. (HIV Transmission from Mother to Child. July 29, 2005: www.infoforhealth.org/pr/112/112boxes.shtml)
In some cultures, wife inheritance is practiced. It is a tradition in which a wife is given to her brother-in-law upon the...