HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa

Jillian Leiferman

What is HIV/AIDS & How Can You Get it?

HIV stands for "Human Immunodeficiency Virus" and AIDS stands for "Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome". They're two very different immunodeficiencies. HIV is a virus that destroys your immune system and can't be cured. Scientists are still trying to figure out why. The difference is that with HIV, you can still live a somewhat normal life and go about your day without being sick all the time. You can get it from sexual intercourse, sharing needles, and from birth but HIV can lead to AIDS. With AIDS, you have to be HIV positive before you can get this disease. You cannot get this disease from birth, you have to acquire it after you are born. AIDS is the final stage of the HIV infection. At this stage, you must seek medical attention in order to prevent death.

Impact of HIV/AIDS on the Children of Africa

As parents and family members fall ill, the childrens' responsibility of the family grows larger. They're now responsible for income, food, and care for their family members. It's harder for these children to access good nutrition, clothing, shelter, and basic healthcare. Often both parents are HIV positive and because of that, more children in Africa than any other continent are orphaned. Also, African children are at a higher risk of being HIV positive because their parents could have it.

The picture to your left shows the percentage of how many people have HIV/AIDS.

How is HIV/AIDS so Common in Africa?

Long distance truck drivers in Africa are known as the primary holders of HIV/AIDS. When they travel for so long they get lonely and have commercial sex, which increases their vulnerability to HIV/AIDS. Most prostitutes are also carriers of HIV/AIDS through intercourse and needles. Some people don't even know if they have HIV/AIDS so when they have sexual intercourse or share needles, it also spreads that way, too.

How can we stop HIV/AIDS from spreading?

Even though the disease isn't curable, we can still try and make our world a better place by taking steps to avoid the risk of catching HIV/AIDS. Ways to prevent HIV/AIDS are having safe sex/using latex barriers while having intercourse, abstinence, and having fewer partners. Those are only some of the several cautious steps we can take.