Africa: Still Losing the War on AIDS
Sub-Saharan Africa is home to two-thirds of all the world's HIV positive people. HIV prevalence rates in some countries in southern Africa have exceeded 20 percent and in 2008 nearly three-quarters of all HIV/AIDS deaths globally occurred in this region. In the worst affected countries, HIV/AIDS has reversed decades of improvement in life expectancy
As AIDS renews its sweep across Africa, health and relief agencies are finding themselves overwhelmed. In a time of economic downturn, donor nations and organizations have become less willing to pour money into what is often perceived as a losing battle.
But there is more to it. Sharonann Lynch, chief author of a recent Doctors Without Borders report on the problem, told the New York Times, "The political winds have changed and I don't believe for a minute it's just the economic downturn. I think world leaders feel the heat is off and they're fatigued" ("At Front Lines in Africa, the War Against AIDS Is Falling Apart," May 10, 2010).
The availability of complex drug treatments means that medical science can now extend the lives of many AIDS victims—if they can afford the costly "cocktail" of medicines required to slow the effects of the disease. This means that, despite the relative lack of public attention, the number of people living with AIDS continues to increase. Although two million AIDS victims are dying each year, three million people become newly infected. But the high cost puts treatment out of the reach of many who are stricken. In Uganda alone, only 200,000 of the 500,000 reported cases are being treated, while an additional 110,000 become infected yearly.
As Dr. David Kihumuro Apuuli, Director-General of the Uganda AIDS Commission, puts it, "You cannot mop the floor when the tap is still running on it." Without enough money to buy needed drugs, clinics in Uganda are turning patients away. In Kenya, money for AIDS treatment will soon expire, and donor shortfalls mean no new clinics are being opened in Mozambique. Drug shortages are starting to occur in Nigeria and Swaziland, while patients in Tanzania and Botswana are being put on wait lists for treatment.
As Africa loses its War on AIDS, the continent and the rest of the world suffer together. The same modern air travel that brought help to Africa in healthier economic times also contributes to the spread of dangerous disease in ever-newer mutations, faster than health authorities can keep up. Airports check for explosives on passengers' bodies and in their luggage, but how can you screen a seemingly healthy traveler who is carrying the hidden time bomb of AIDS?
Despite the stereotype common in America, AIDS in Africa is mostly spread by heterosexual contact. God's word warns that when married couples violate His commandment against adultery (Exodus 20:14), He "will bring upon you and your descendants extraordinary plagues—great and prolonged plagues—and serious and prolonged sicknesses" (Deuteronomy 28:59).
How different it would be if everyone would heed the beautiful biblical proverb: "Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice with the wife of your youth. As a loving deer and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times; and always be enraptured with her love. For why should you, my son, be enraptured by an immoral woman, and be embraced in the arms of a seductress? For the ways of man are before the eyes of the LORD, and He ponders all his paths" (Proverbs 5:18-21).
A time will come when the whole world will experience the blessings of living God's way, obeying His Ten Commandments under the loving rule of Jesus Christ, in the Kingdom of God He will soon set up here on planet Earth. To learn more, read our powerful booklets, The Ten Commandments and The World Ahead: What Will It Be Like?