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AIDS Epidemic in Africa

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Dani Jessee May 2, 2010 African Health/Illness Essay 4 HIV/Aids Epidemic in Africa One of the greatest challenges that our generation is facing has spread like wild fire, becoming one of the worst epidemics in only the last couple decades. The devastation of HIV/Aids has lasted far longer than the influenza epidemic, small pox, or the black plague, "All these epidemics clearly differed from HIV/Aids in their greater infectiousness, their short incubation period, the speed with which they killed, and their brief but dramatic impact" (Iliffe, pp. 59). HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks the immune system and breaks it down leaving the body more susceptible to illness. Without treatment, most people infected with HIV become less able to fight off germs that we are exposed to every day. AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is a late stage of HIV infection. An HIV positive person is diagnosed with AIDS when their immune system is so weakened that it is no longer able to fight off illness. People with immune deficiency are much more vulnerable to infections such as pneumonia and various forms of cancer. HIV can be transmitted person to person through unprotected sexual intercourse with infected person, transfusion of infected blood or blood products, infected mother to her baby during pregnancy, birth process and through breastfeeding, use of infected needles and instruments without sterilization or sharing of needles and syringes by HIV positive drug addicts. ...read more.


The AIDS epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa has stimulated interest on the part of modern biomedical health practitioners in collaboration with these traditional healers. Traditional healers have started to be trained as educators and counselors to disseminate HIV/AIDS information and prevention practices among their peers and communities. Overall the traditional healers are capable of performing just as well as their biomedical counterparts as AIDS educators and counselors. The only main concern of western doctors is the failure of many projects providing healers with counseling training to give organized follow-up classes to healers after their initial training. Such follow-up is essential to support healers in dealing with unfamiliar issues such as condom use and death and dying. The most important thing to be aware of is neither western biomedicine nor traditional healing have provided the world with a cure for HIV/Aids. So it is wrong to assume one is better than the other and it is vital for the two health systems to work together. Another problem is how well biomedicine is accepted in Africa and how effective it really is in the environment. It wasn't more than thirty years before the Aids epidemic began that African countries were finally ridding themselves of western colonial rule and oppression, it must have been a little difficult to ask and receive help from former governing nations. ...read more.


153). Aids should not be seen as only a problem in Africa but a global crisis. The HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa that began in the early 1980s is a new and confusing health problem that should be treated differently than anything that has come before it because it is a new disease that not only has no cure but has an incubation period up to ten years before there are any signs that a person is infected. And it is important to focus on fighting HIV/Aids with both Western and traditional health systems. As Aids is a sexually related disease it is important to produce a new discussion of sexuality and how to protest oneself that is not based on Western or European ideals of African sexuality but based on real experiences of men and women living in Africa with certain stigmas against condom use and safe sex practices, "It would be better to die of Aids from someone you love than lose a loving guy for the sake of a condom" (Varga, pp. 81). Also, it is important to understand that there is no longer a separate Western and African health practice. Biomedicine is practiced by Africans, and biomedical research is being carried out by Africans. So it is safe to say that since the late twentieth century, biomedicine has become a part of African traditional healing. ...read more.

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This essay provides a reasonable overview of the main themes concerning HIV/AIDS in Africa and the basic structure is acceptable. It is too reliant on a narrow range of sources in places, and could be improved by explicitly comparing and contrasting differing viewpoints. The conclusion also needs to be improved, as it introduces too many new ideas and does not sum up the argument well. 3 stars.

Marked by teacher Rachel Smith 24/12/2012

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