HIV/AIDS sub-Saharan Africa

The HIV AIDS epidemic is a serious issue in the world today, nowhere more serious than Sub-Saharan Africa. In 2012 approximately 25 million people were living with HIV. This population of HIV affected in Africa accounts for nearly 70% of the global total (ADVERT). There was an estimated 1.6 million new HIV infections is 2012, and 1.2 million deaths from AIDS and AIDS related illness (ADVERT). The developmental history of AIDS is somewhat murky. It is generally accepted that HIV is a descendant of a Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV), which affects monkeys. The strain that most closely resembles HIV-1 has been identified as SIVcpz, stemming from chimpanzees. HIV-2 corresponds to SIVsm, a strain found in white-collard monkey. The transfer of the virus between chimps and humans has been given a number of different theories. From the “hunter” theory where humans hunting chimps allowed blood to enter the bloodstream to a conspiracy theory that HIV is “man made”.

There is often a link between the spread of HIV and poverty. This argument is beginning to be challenged; a study found on ADVERT shows a higher concentration of HIV and AIDS among wealthier individuals in sub-Saharan Africa. This is believed to be because of greater mobility and multiple partners. Life expectancy in this region is approximately 49.5 years (ADVERT). Other factors aiding in the transmission of HIV can be related to socioeconomic factors. With many heads of households becoming sick poverty is a serious problem in this area. A coping strategy of participating in transaction sex for food or money has only increased the risk of transmission. The education system and healthcare system can play a vital role in reducing the impact. Educating young children about safe sex practices is a must. “Without education, AIDS will continue its rampant spread. With AIDS out of control, education will be out of reach.” – Peter Piot, Director of UNAIDS

An interesting article I found was by Edward Green, he looked at the role male circumcision could play in protection against STD’s and HIV infection. The article found that STD’s are more difficult to treat in uncircumcised men. Also poor hygiene allows the foreskin to store dirt and other bodily fluids, thus increasing the odds for passing on to the next sexual partner. Green has been met with skepticism from anthologists during American Anthropological Association Annual meeting in 2000 for the fear that these procedures would be performed in non-medical settings and also that individuals might develop a false sense of security and engage in riskier behavior.



AVERT. AVERTing HIV and AIDS. Accessed August 6, 2014.

Green, Edward. African Men, Circumcision, HIV/AIDS and Anthropology. Share The World’s Resources. 2000.

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