Africa is not only the cradle of mankind but also home to some of the world poorest. Indeed, Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for about half of the poverty levels in the world. In such places, living standards are low, the national economics of countries are low with laborers being exploited and subjected to deplorable conditions. It is in these areas that the HIV/AIDS pandemic is a living reality and threat. The HIV/AIDS scourge has taken root in the African countries due to an accumulation of circumstances that have conspired, in turn facilitating the spread of the scourge.
Interestingly, in terms of morality, the African ethnic communities retain arguably the highest moral standards. Attesting to this is the fact that in the whole of Africa, it is only South Africa that has legalized homosexuality. In other countries, homosexuality remains illegal and immoral and attracts considerable contempt. Thus the question why is HIV/AIDS pandemic heavily concentrated in Africa?
Several answers can be given in response to the question. First, containing HIV/AIDS needs retroviral medication. These drugs are costly and in many countries governments have had to subsidize the costs for their ailing citizens. In Africa several patients have died or lived shorter lives because they could not access the retroviral medication. In many cases the main reason often is the lack of resources to afford the medicine. Other secondary reasons could be lack of knowledge, inaccessibility of suppliers and the fear of stigmatization among others.
Secondly, African ethnic groups still believe in and indeed practice polygamy. It is through polygamy that the scourge even spreads faster. This is because through polygamy an infected man poses a risk of infecting any and every woman he sleeps with (his wives). In extreme cases, some ethnic communities still embrace the concept of wife inheritance where the surviving relatives takes over the wife of a deceased . This, if practiced blindly, occasions a situation where the scourge is spread in masses. Lastly the popular African tradition of circumcision has been credited with some of the infections. This is especially because both females and males are circumcised with the same blade occasioning blood contact. However, in all it must be appreciated that a lot of community awareness programs and information spread campaigns have been undertaken with the effect that the main form of spread remaining is sexual intercourse. Apparently, this has not been easy to contain given the complex character of the same. For instance, many men have declined to adopt the use of contraceptives such as condoms citing reasons such as reduced sexual pleasure.
As Africa struggles with the HIV/AIDS scourge, poverty remains the biggest obstacle since it denies the infected and the uninfected empowerment which would enable them live decent and healthier lives. Cases of prostitution would reduce substantially if the women involved were economically empowered. The biggest challenge the church has had to confront perhaps is to instill a Christian moral culture and conduct among community members. This has not been easy given the dicey character of the African ethnic communities. Some of the members, faced with poverty and ignorance, have clung to their traditions without consideration of the consequences. The Catholic churches’ situation has been further compounded by its controversial stand against the use of contraceptives. This essentially leaves the church with faithfulness and abstinence as the only weapons to fight HIV/AIDS, weapons which researchers have reported as being ineffective given the operating conditions already mentioned in the paper. Fighting HIV/AIDS remains a social justice issue for the simple reason that human beings have an inalienable right to healthy lifestyles and environments.
Avert. The HIV and AIDS Epidemic in Africa. 10 September 2013. 14 September 2013. <http://www.avert.org/aids-hiv-africa.htm>.
Global Issues. The Impact Of AIDS In Africa. 28 December 2009. 14 September 2013. <http://www.globalissues.org/article/90/aids-in-africa#TheImpactofAIDSinAfrica>.
Kalipeni, Ezekiel. HIV and AIDS in Africa: Beyond Epidemiology. New York: Wiley, 2008.
Paulo, Margarida, Antonie Socpa and Ayalew Gebre. Youth, HIV/AIDS and Social Transformations in Africa. New York: African Books Collective, 2009.