Understanding the AIDS Epidemic

One of the gravest issues factoring into global health today is the HIV/AIDS epidemic; especially in low and middle-income countries that do not have nearly as much educational and medical resources as the fully prepared European and American societies that effectively block the spread of the virus. Sub-Saharan Africa stands to this day as the region with the greatest amount of AIDS cases, most of which go untreated: only 38% of AIDS related sicknesses receive treatment coverage. Fortunately, members of the United Nations have been subject to the Millennium Development Project and as a result have shown some improvement in combating the AIDS epidemic. The reported number of newly infected people living in the region decreased from 2.2 million in 2001 to 1.8 million in 2009. This number had seen a great rise towards the second half of the 20th century, but initiatives like the Millennium Development Program have led to its relative decrease as this century pushes on. The staggering number that really highlights the gravity of the problem lies in the amount of students and children who live with the virus: 1.4 million in 2001 and 2.3 million in 2009.

In analyzing this region, it is important to make the distinction between the eastern, southern, and central Africa because there are vital differences in the way each one is being affected. The situation in central and east Africa is stabilizing, with the greatest amount of cases being reported in southern Africa. Of all the women living with AIDS, 40% of them are found in southern Africa. The nation of South Africa stands out of the bunch because it holds the record for having the largest number of people infected with the virus. 5.6 million South Africans (10% of the country’s population) were HIV positive in 2009. The national government has gone through many problems in attempting to provide affordable medication to the millions who don’t have the economic means to receive the proper treatment for their sickness. Large pharmaceutical companies entered into a legal battle with the government over the patent rights of their drugs that happen to be life-saving in many cases. The companies have vowed to sell their drugs to those who can’t afford them for much less than they used to, but many still complain that is not enough. This colossal problem of AIDS has to be addressed by stopping the infection, saving lives, and improving the quality of life people living with HIV lead; however, in order to achieve this, a massive amount of resources are required. The problem remains monetary, and greater efforts are required from organizations like the UN.


1) Global Report on the HIV Epidemic

AIDSinfo Database



2) South Africa: Battle against Pharmaceutical Giants Continues


1 comment for “Understanding the AIDS Epidemic

  1. Emma Dinapoli
    November 6, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    How do you think religion and AIDS prevention tied are together? That the Catholic Church continues to stand against the use of contraceptives has been a source of frustration for groups working on the ground in countries with high numbers of HIV-infected citizens. I don’t think we’ll ever be able to address the problem of AIDS fully until the Church fully modernizes because it is such a powerful institution in developing countries.

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