HIV/AIDS Virus

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A time bomb has a short time before explosion. This could be related to Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome in two ways: INDIVIDUAL In terms of the disease to an individual, HIV could be the relatively safe period before detonation, when it can be easily controlled, but as soon as time runs out, everything goes wrong.

AIDS usually kills the victim within 10 years of infection with HIV, and in the last two or three years of life, AIDS makes a massive impact on the body, roughly doubling its number of HIV RNA copies, totally overpowering the immune system until no immunity remains, and any sort of disease could just finish off the victim. But that is not the end. EFFECTS ON FAMILY One family member having the disease leads to more, their partner will probably contract it, meaning any children they have could inherit it too.

AIDS causes the victim to be less effective at work, reducing income, making the rest of the family work harder, particularly if they’re farmers. With less income comes less food and nutrition, again reducing immunity and causing more death; and where income is as tight as it is where AIDS hits hardest (Sub-Saharan Africa), the cost of the funerals for the deceased helps to drain away the last of the families’ funds. Members of the families may move to the cities in search of jobs, but with no money to start with, find themselves in slums in very poor conditions.

If they already have AIDS, the dirty water they have to use and open drains could quite easily cause illness, reducing ability to work and possibly killing the victim earlier than necessary. SUB SAHARAN AFRICA Proof of this is evident in Sub-Saharan Africa, where 60% of all worldwide cases of HIV/AIDS are to be found. The life expectancy has reduced from 52 to 47 since the early 1990s, and between 1990 and 2010, the area saw an increase of 17. 8 million orphans from AIDS; 0. 6 in 1990 and 18. 4 in 2010.

As AIDS is a relatively new disease (suspected to have started in 1930, exploding in the 1980s), many of the orphans’ grandparents don’t have AIDS, so a mas1sive strain is put on them, looking after and fending for the children. Many of these children will be HIV/AIDS positive, and in areas like Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Kenya, where 14% of the children living there in 2005 had been orphaned by AIDS, there’s a large number to be at risk from being born with HIV/AIDS or developing it while still being breastfed; in Africa there are 3 million HIV positive children.

To date, over 2. 4 million Africans have died from AIDS. RELIGION AND HISTORY In 2009, the total Catholic population of Africa was estimated to be 158 million, about 1/6 of its total population. Catholics do not allow condoms to be used; their only method of contraception is abstinence, so although they can only have sex with their spouses, this still means that almost every if not all Catholic marriages infected by AIDS will affect both partners. With no contraception, this makes for bigger families, and therefore more children born with high chances of getting AIDS.

In the past five decades, increased availability in transport has meant that AIDS has been able to spread easily, and war has exaggerated the explosion of AIDS, with rape from soldiers on civilians adding to those infected. HEALTHCARE FAILS Whereas in MEDCs and some anomalies such as Thailand (where life expectancy is only reduced from 76 to 75 with the onset of AIDS due to its successful healthcare scheme), AIDS is not leaving much of a mark; in LEDCs, drugs for fighting the syndrome are much less readily available, helping to reach the figure of 95% of AIDS cases being found there.

Kenya has a GDP of only $1200 and cannot afford the drugs or research it takes to keep on top of the disease. Research is necessary because of the nature of the virus. When it reproduces, it does not make identical copies of itself, so medicines must constantly be altered to stay effective. In such areas, there is little hope for improvement. Research is expensive, and countries that carry it out will not simply give away the formulae to countries that can’t pay for it.

This means that the disease cannot be kept under control, and will just keep engulfing the nations in question. NOT KNOWING ABOUT IT Another factor adding to the expansion of the disease is that in many countries it is a taboo subject; victims are ashamed and will seek no help for it, and may not even tell anyone, and with poor healthcare and no obvious symptoms, it may never be diagnosed; only 1% of the sexually active population of Africa has actually been tested for HIV.

There is also a religious theory that AIDS is a punishment from God, so those who know that they have it keep it a secret. In poor countries such as this, condoms are not cheap in comparison to GDP, especially among subsistence farmers, so when an HIV/AIDS positive individual gets a new sexual partner, the latter would not expect a condom, and can unwillingly contract AIDS. The vicious cycle continues; in farming communities especially, as many children as possible are brought up to work on the land, and they could easily contract HIV at a very young age, without even knowing.

The same fate falls on children due to their parents’ beliefs; men often see condoms as “unmanly” and pleasure reducing; some see a large family as a sign of male virility, and that the children will be able to care for and support them into old age. Rumors such as having sex with a young virgin can cure the disease only add to the number or those infected. OTHER METHODS OF INFECTION However, sex is not the only way of contracting AIDS. Any bodily fluid exchange introduces a massive threat of AIDS.

Another common way of coming into contact with HIV is through needles; poorly cleaned ones in hospitals, or drug users’ ones in the streets; drug use has increased in recent years. There have been news stories in the UK in recent years about people who have had blood transfusions where the blood came from HIV positive donators; in the USA, 9 out of 10 infections of HIV are caused this way, and 2. 5 out of 10 happen to children during their birth.

One of the key ways of tackling this is through education, about sex, drugs, and hygiene. But this is a defense that is weakening; as parents get too ill to work, children are withdrawn from school to earn money. So theoretically, it’s only a matter of time before what little education is left in the affected areas becomes so small because of AIDS that that it serves no purpose. With no education, children cannot get the jobs that can help their countries develop, or bring home enough money to treat the AIDS in their families.

With little or no qualifications, many people (particularly women) find that their best chances of employment are to be found in the sex industry. Statistics show that sexual activity of any kind is more likely to infect the woman, for example, sexual intercourse infects twice as many women as men in the USA. So LEDCs don’t develop and AIDS keeps spreading. TACKLING WITH HELP FROM MEDCS There are positive measures being put in place. The UN and World Bank are offering money in the form of fundraising or interest free loans to work against AIDS.

Some companies are producing cheaper drugs to combat it, some aid programmes are helping to provide jobs outside the sex industry, and education is provided; but the prospects do look bleak. Many solutions are not put into practice; it seems obvious that if the worst affected countries (the LEDCs that can’t develop, partially due to their massive debts) could have their loans repaid, reduced or removed, more money would be created to spend on healthcare and education; two things that would help improve the country and create money.

CONCLUSION/SUMMARY In a continent where healthcare and money is very poor, the disease cannot be easily tracked or tackled. Where the subject is taboo, AIDS can spread quickly. Where education is failing, lack of knowledge increases those infected. And as orphans are created, worse quality of life (early contraction of the disease, lack of education and job prospects), AIDS looks set to spiral out of control, fitting adequately to the metaphor of a time bomb.

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