AIDS in Africa. Lack of education contributes to HIV/AIDS epidemic in South Africa

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History of the Americas Weekly

November 18, 2010

Lack of education contributes to HIV/AIDS epidemic in South Africa

By Patty   Lopez

            For over 30 years now, HIV/AIDS has been spreading throughout the world, mainly in Africa. Of the estimated 32.9 million people living with the fatal disease, 71% reside in Africa. Of those people, 88% live in South Africa. With the lack of public schools, the crisis is expected to worsen because most people are unaware of the dangers that the disease poses.

            In South Africa, about 18.1% of the population (49 million) are living with HIV/AIDS, more then in any country in the world. In 2006 alone, it is estimated that there were 336,000 AIDS related deaths in South Africa, which is nearly 1,000 lives every day. Most affected by AIDS are the children whose parents have been infected. When their parents pass away, their responsibilities multiply and their chances of receiving an education are severely limited.

With an estimated 2 million AIDS orphans in South Africa, children are expected to stay home and work to supply their families with food and shelter. For the women, the only possible way to do this is by going into prostitution, which further increases their chance of contracting HIV. If the woman ends up being pregnant and she is infected with HIV/AIDS, the child will most likely contract it too, unless the mother has the money to pay for the medication to prevent it, which isn’t very likely in the poor parts of Sub-Saharan Africa.

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In South Africa, 9 out of 10 children who have HIV/AIDS were infected by their mother through breastfeeding, pregnancy or while in labor. This is virtually unavoidable- with the poverty they live in, mothers are forced to breastfeed and medication is very difficult to obtain.

Map showing the prevalence of HIV in Africa

The children who didn’t contract it from their mothers could have been infected by someone with HIV/AIDS through sexual abuse. Myths in parts of Africa claim that HIV can be cured by having sex with a virgin, which leads to rapes. Also, a large number of ...

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