AIDS: The Modern Black Plague
The AIDS epidemic has reached a crisis level in Africa and needs to be addressed by the United States. Efforts to teach the population AIDS prevention, reduce the price of certain medications, and influence the local leaders to teach their citizens about AIDS should be considered by the United States. Along with those efforts, the United States needs to help with the aftermath of the epidemic. In order to fully understand what the United States needs to do to help, we must first realize why the AIDS epidemic has risen to a crisis level in Africa.
When the HIV virus matures it turns into what is known as AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). It is a ...view middle of the document...
The most obvious is that AIDS originated in Africa. The prevailing theory is that a hunter was infected with the virus when in contact with the blood of a monkey. It then spread to New York by way of a flight attendant and the western world became involved overnight (Jamjian, Interview).
Another big reason that AIDS affects Africa the most is that its countries are generally poor. Simply, there is no money to combat the problem. South African Justice Edwin Cameron stated in an article in Nation magazine that, “Africans survive on less the one US dollar a day” (Nordland, 4). The estimated cost of medication is around $400 per month.
Another, perhaps more appalling, reason that the virus runs rampant in Africa is that many of its leaders won’t even acknowledge the problem. In an interview with the University of Utah’s head HIV expert Christine Jamjian, she stated that many African leaders, such as South Africa’s Thabo Mbeki, do not know the facts. The South African president stated that he believes the HIV virus does not develop into AIDS (Jamjian). How can a country whose leaders won’t even concede that AIDS is a problem have any hope of receiving help? The biggest problem that Africa faces is its lack of education. The troubled continent is short on teachers who are willing to educate the people on how to avoid AIDS. In Africa the disease is mainly transmitted sexually. So another snag in the problem of educating the public is that most Africans will not openly talk about the sexually transmitted virus. There are no sex-education classes that teach young people the dangers and how to avoid them.
What can be done? It has been suggested that American pharmaceutical companies lower the cost of AIDS-combating drugs thus increasing the availability to Africans. Jim Jorgenson, the University of Utah’s Director of Pharmaceutical Services, believes that this is not the solution. He feels that even if companies were to lower the cost to an absolute minimum, there would be no progress made because more Africans would still continue to be infected as long as they stay ignorant on how to prevent it. He feels that money would best be spent on education and encouraging prevention (Jorgenson, Interview).
AIDS is now at a crisis level in Africa. It does not look like there will be a cure to the disease in the near future. Therefore, a reevaluation must take place in order to combat the spread of the disease. In the United States prevention, such as abstinence from the sharing of needles in drug use and also safe sex, is taught and seems to be keeping the virus from spreading more. If there is hope for Africa in fighting this modern plague, its leaders must acknowledge the problem and be willing to receive help from the United States.
In order to slow the spread of the deadly AIDS epidemic, the people of Africa need to be given more preventive education. Treatments are important to improve the lives of those who are infected with the...