As more and more people in African countries become ill with HIV, the extent of the epidemic is becoming clearer. An estimated 24.5 million people were living with HIV at the end of 2005 and approximately 2.7 million new infections occurred during that year. In the past year the epidemic has claimed the lives of an estimated 2 million people. More than twelve million children have been orphaned by AIDS. A review of the status of HIV in Africa, prevention, treatment and successes and failures are presented. Finally a discussion ensues on whether enough is being done to control HIV.
HIV prevalence rates vary greatly between African countries. In Somalia and Senegal the prevalence is under 1% of the adult population, whereas in South Africa and Zambia around 15-20% of adults are infected. Sub-Saharan Africa is more heavily affected by HIV and AIDS than any other region of the world.The strategies employed by countries in Africa to deal with the epidemic include: condom use, abstinence, voluntary counselling and testing, mother to child transmission, behaviour change, follow-up counselling, protection from stigma and discrimination, treatment of other sexually transmitted infections, and the prevention and treatment of opportunistic infections, and Antiretroviral drug treatments.
There is a varied view about the success and failures of these programmes. While it appears that a lot is being done in reality the situation is bleak. The paper finally focuses on what needs to be done to improve Africa’s predicament. These include commitment by domestic governments, international support, reduction of stigma as influenced by culture. A balance approach between prevention and treatment is needed. The prevention of new infections, provision of treatment and care to those living with HIV in Africa is a major dilemma for our world.
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