Impact of AIDS

HIV/AIDS Prevalence

By the end of 2004, it was estimated that 25 million Africans were living with HIV out of the 40 million infected worldwide.

Source: UNAIDS
HIV/AIDS, has unlike any other disease in Africa, deeply penetrated every aspect of society. Unlike malaria or tuberculosis, it has impacted both the young and the old; governments and private institutions alike. And it is understandable why – despite comprising just over 10% of the world’s population, sub-Saharan Africa is home to more than 60% of the world’s HIV-positive population!!

Source: UNAIDS
The increased burden of caring for those infected with HIV/AIDS taxes the health care sector, which, in most African nations, can ill afford treating the plethora of opportunistic ailments that inflict the infected. Few, if any, can afford care independently – the antiretroviral drugs, the special nutritional support, the palliative care.

In 2004, a total of 4.9 million people were newly infected with HIV worldwide. Over 60% of these new infections were in sub-Saharan Africa where its children comprised a significant percentage of the total 640,000 new infections in children under the age of 15. It is an alarming visual (see the chart below) but a more shocking – and devastating reality. Of the infected is a high percentage of women (they make up almost 57% of all infections in sub-Saharan Africa) who are not only Africa’s caregivers but also major contributors to its local development.


Source: UNAIDS

But significantly, with 80% of new HIV infections occurring in those ages 15 through 49, AIDS is decimating the parents and most able workers in society, thereby bearing severe economic impact. It is thriving in already marginalized communities further magnifying socioeconomic deprivation – and the suffering of the sick – and the orphaned.
It is sad to see what AIDS does to destroy families who once lived with love and a sense of future. It robs families of parents and parents of children. AIDS kills families and their spirits before them.

Did you know that of the 3.1 million adult and child deaths that occurred in 2004 due to AIDS, that 2.3 million (74%) are in sub-Saharan Africa?


Source: UNAIDS

When a family member becomes sick with AIDS, a parent or older child who otherwise would be working and earning money must stay home to care for that person. If one parent becomes infected, it is inevitable that the second parent will follow. As they decline and eventually die, the children are left to fend for themselves. Often, they have sacrificed their education due to need or desire to help and spend as much time as possible with the dying parent. Finally, most families of AIDS victims are left with no material goods or land, as they would have sold it off to pay for medicines.

Poor, uneducated, and with no one to look after them, these children are truly suffering. And yet, they are Africa’s future.

Adults included in this table are defined as men and women aged 15-49. This age bracket captures those in their most sexually active years. Since population structures differ greatly from one country to another, especially for children and the upper adult ages, the restriction of “adult” to 15-49 has the advantage of making different populations more comparable. Figures are estimates at the end of 2004 as reported by UNAIDS in the “Report on Global HIV/AIDS Epidemic, 2004.” The estimates are rounded numbers and include all the people with HIV infection, whether or not they have developed AIDS symptoms, alive as of year-end 2004. Minor discrepancies between regional/global totals and the sum of country figures are as a result of combining rounded and unrounded numbers during the calculation of rates and regional totals.