AIDS In Africa: General Pattern of Epidemic And Community of Women Essay Example
AIDS In Africa: General Pattern of Epidemic And Community of Women Essay Example

AIDS In Africa: General Pattern of Epidemic And Community of Women Essay Example

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In January 2003, President George Bush of the United States launched an ambitious global AIDS program. The program aimed to surpass existing international efforts by distributing life-saving medication to at least 2 million people living with HIV within five years, preventing 7 million new infections, and offering support to those who were ill or orphaned in 15 countries. President Bush dedicated $15 billion towards this initiative.

President Bush's promise to allocate the majority of funding to sub-Saharan Africa, where the largest population of people living with HIV/AIDS worldwide resides, has not been fulfilled. Instead, these funds are being used for promoting a right-wing agenda, which undermines international efforts and increases the risk of infection and death in AIDS-affected countries. The emergence of HIV/AIDS symptoms was initially observed in the early 1980s in specific locations such as Los Ange


les and San Francisco. Doctors noticed an increasing prevalence of rare pneumonia and Kaposi's sarcoma cases. In 1982, the U.S. Center for Disease Control coined the term AIDS (The Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) to describe these instances (For more information, refer to Quinn, Mann, Curran & Piot's article in Science).

AIDS, which weakens the immune system and increases vulnerability to other diseases, does not directly lead to death. Following its discovery in the United States, cases of AIDS emerged among Africans residing in Europe. Medical professionals attending to these patients observed a distinct variation of the disease that differed from cases found in the U.S.

In African instances, the ratio of infection between males and females was 1.7:1. Unlike cases in the U.S. and among Europeans with AIDS, over 90% of these African instances denied engaging in homosexuality or intravenous dru

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Currently, the HIV pandemic is concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa, where over 8 million people are infected. According to some estimates, approximately 83% of adult women and 55% of men in sub-Saharan Africa are infected with HIV.

The essay aims to analyze and discuss the infection pattern among women in Sub-Saharan Africa, where the AIDS pandemic is most severe. Lesley Doyal's observations in certain communities of adult females in Uganda reveal an equal male-to-female ratio, indicating a high rate of infant infection that is likely to increase due to limited access to healthcare facilities. The capitalist organization of labor in Africa has caused men from rural villages and farms to migrate to urban centers, leaving behind numerous single adult females struggling to provide for themselves and their children in rural communities. Consequently, these women seek opportunities in urban areas but often encounter limited job options, leading some into prostitution. Moreover, this essay will demonstrate that traditional African male-female relationships have worsened the negative health effects of HIV/AIDS on African women alongside migratory labor.

Charles Hunt explores the impact of colonialism and changes in work patterns on African women infected with the HIV virus and women with AIDS in his book "Africa and AIDS: dependent development, sexism, and racism." He attributes the prevalence of the epidemic among women in sub-Saharan Africa to the takeover of African agriculture by capitalist economy. According to Hunt, as industrial capitalism expanded on the African continent, traditional agricultural practices were replaced by work in mining, railway, and large plantations controlled by European colonizers. He argues that sustaining a capitalist mode of production required large amounts of labor from rural areas.

Hunt highlights that the

massive migration of labor from rural areas drastically changed the structure of families and lifestyles in this region. This migration forced men to search for employment in distant urban areas, separating them from their homes and small towns. The large-scale migration of men also had long-lasting psychological and physical effects on the families left behind. Additionally, as men migrated, women in rural areas increasingly struggled to make ends meet and were gradually pushed to seek employment in urban centers. However, due to limited opportunities for these women in these areas, many resorted to engaging in prostitution.

Other scholars of Africa's political economy have supported the idea that the debut of capitalist economy and labor migration are closely linked. According to Portes, since capitalism became more established, a distinct form of migration has been increasing. This type of migration does not happen through blatant force or coercion. Instead, it appears to be the result of individual decisions. However, Portes argues that the underlying forces driving this migration are primarily economic, as it involves individuals who intend to sell their labor in their destination. Portes suggests that a continuous flow of migrant labor cannot be solely achieved through individuals voluntarily choosing to migrate.

Instead, in order for sustained labor migration to occur, the dominant society must infiltrate the political and economic institutions of the subsidiary society. This infiltration eventually leads to the replacement of local labor. An example of deliberate imbalance for the purpose of extracting labor from the rural population is seen in the case of the Bantu people in South Africa. In response to labor shortages, a sudden tax burden forced the self-sufficient Bantu people to migrate

annually and earn extra income to cover the taxes. However, as noted by Portes, this additional income was not enough to fully cover the taxes and had to be supplemented with paid employment. Given the limited opportunities available, migration to the mines became the only option.

According to Lesley Doyal, in addition to external political and economic factors, there are internal cultural reasons that contribute to the high rate of AIDS among adult women in Sub-Saharan communities. Doyal suggests that the cultural dominance of heterosexism is strengthened by gender inequalities in income and wealth. For many women, economic security and even survival depend on their male partners' support. As a result, their ability to control their risk of HIV exposure is limited due to their financial dependence.

Lesley Doyal states that the HIV infection ratio between men and women in Africa differs significantly compared to other regions. In Eastern Europe, the ratio is 10:1, while in North America it is 8.5:1. However, certain parts of Africa, particularly sub-Saharan Africa, have seen a shift in the proportion of HIV-positive individuals towards women, making them the majority. Doyal attributes this difference to cultural dominance of heterosexism and broader gender inequalities in income and wealth that reinforce existing disparities.

The concerns raised by Ugandan MP Miria Matembe also shed light on internal cultural factors contributing to high rates of HIV infection among women in this community. According to Matembe's statements, these women report witnessing their husbands involved with the wives of men who have died from AIDS.

The text addresses the challenges faced by a particular demographic who rely on employment and have limited travel choices. It emphasizes the correlation between elevated

rates of HIV infection among women in African societies and their dependence on men. Additionally, it raises awareness about the variation in HIV/AIDS prevalence between rural and urban areas, specifically noting that Eastern and Central Africa exhibit higher mortality and seroprevalence rates in urban regions.

Researchers have focused on the disparity in socioeconomic backgrounds among people living in urban areas as an explanation for the higher rate of AIDS/HIV. According to Barrett and Blaikie, individuals residing in cities are more likely to engage in frequent changes of sexual partners and have easier access to the sex/prostitution industry, which is a major contributing factor to the increased infection rate. On the other hand, Diana Russell's work titled "AIDS and Mass Femicide" highlights how African men's refusal to use condoms during intercourse with their partners, combined with husbands' ability to coerce their partners into having sex under patriarchal laws in Africa, has significantly worsened the spread of the pandemic.

According to Russell, the increasing rise of AIDS/HIV infection among African adult females can be considered as a form of femicide.

Bettering Health Problems

In their analyses of impacts of AIDS-related mortality, Barrett and Blaikie highlight that "the present and future levels of mortality primarily affect the loss of people as members and as producers". They emphasize that the age-cohort with the highest rate of mortality is women in the 20-29 years age range and men in the 25-34 age range. People in this age range have a significantly higher rate of productivity, both in terms of reproduction and economic activity.

The influence of AIDS on various age groups has had important consequences for present productivity levels, reproduction rates, and future mortality rates.

The reduction in the number of people affected by AIDS within African families has led to noticeable alterations in their overall productivity. As HIV advances to more severe conditions associated with AIDS, infected family members' capacity to participate in crucial agricultural work necessary for sustenance gradually declines.

The loss of boys to AIDS in non-agricultural households also leads to a significant decrease in remittals from non-agricultural income. This exacerbates the challenges faced by women in meeting their financial needs. It is worth noting that HIV infections are much more prevalent among women in certain countries. Consequently, there has been a decline in overall fertility rates and it is anticipated that these rates will be considerably lower by 2015 (reducing from approximately 7.7 today to 4 by 2015). In Ethiopia, for instance, the combined impact of deaths and reduced births is expected to result in around 6 million fewer people by 2009. Furthermore, the growing number of women's deaths contributes to a substantial population of malnourished orphans, which continues to increase.

Government organizations commonly provide assistance and medical aid to these individuals using the traditional biomedical model of care delivery. However, several organizations have recognized the limitations of this model and have started offering care based on alternative approaches. Faith-based organizations and traditional African healing are two such alternative approaches to the traditional mainstream biomedical model of care delivery. In the region being discussed, CORE Initiative is an organization that adopts a different objective: The CORE Initiative partners with community and faith-based groups to promote comprehensive responses to the HIV/AIDS epidemic through grants, capacity building, and networking. One area of focus for the CORE Initiative is community capacity


According to CORE, building organizational and capacity structures are crucial for enabling the necessary skills in implementing community-based HIV/AIDS programs. In addition to the CORE Initiative, tribal therapists also play a key role in the discussed region, addressing various diseases. Rankin and Wilson assert that therapists have traditionally played a central role in African folk medicine. Traditional African healing practices are important in designing preventative health programs for infected communities, including women. They address all aspects of these women's daily lives, such as community relationships, the natural environment, and supernatural forces.

In many communities where female healers practice, the balance between human, societal, natural, and supernatural aspects is seen as crucial for maintaining health. Catherine H. Berndt's analysis of the role of traditional African healing practices helps us understand the significance of these practices in alleviating symptoms of HIV/AIDS. Berndt highlights that in traditional Aboriginal societies, social and interpersonal relationships are primarily driven by the belief that individuals can greatly impact the lives of others. According to Berndt, physical and physiological factors that affect human lives are often secondary to psychological or mental factors in these societies.

According to Berndt, a key aspect of patient doctor/healer relationships is the belief that an individual's well-being can be influenced by others who are not physically present. This effect can be countered or reduced through similar actions. These beliefs are seen in various spiritual systems of thought that shape these relationships, particularly in traditional societies in Africa and Asia. Such belief systems have played an important role in how illness and treatment are understood and approached. For example, in African traditional thought, if A dislikes B, B is expected to

become sick due to witchcraft. In African societies, there is a connection between the psychosomatic and the social aspects of a person's nature, which differs from Western perspectives. The understanding of the "soul" or "psyche" in African traditional medicine diverges from Western approaches.

The notion of Cartesian dualism has influenced Western thought and medicine, resulting in the belief that the mind and body are distinct. In contrast, Africans hold a different viewpoint wherein they perceive the mind as external to the individual and assign it an important role in comprehending illness. Moreover, African perspectives on illness differ from those of Westerners as they prioritize the link between illness and interpersonal relationships. Regardless of whether it is physical or psychological, illness is regarded as a communal occurrence involving not only the patient but also their family, friends, and community. Frequently, poor health is interpreted as a manifestation of societal struggles or tension. Consequently, cultural healing assumes a vital part in healing practices with its objective being to accomplish dual goals according to Kleinman.

, to reconstruct the patient to a healthy state and also address the challenges within the community that have led to the patient's illness. In summary, scholars of nursing tradition in Africa emphasize the importance of allowing African therapists to continue playing a key role in rehabilitation and caring activities. It is important to recognize that improving the described AIDS crisis will benefit from both government-run biomedical medicine and alternative traditional medicine and nursing activities. Nursing in this area and policies promoting rehabilitation should be better designed to educate men to show more respect for women. It is also crucial to educate women about the

importance of encouraging their partners to undergo regular HIV testing.

In conclusion, the capitalist mode of production has played a significant role in the phenomenon of labor migration in Africa. This migration has had numerous profound effects on households, as it has compelled men to migrate to mining and industrial areas in urban regions. Additionally, this mode of production has also prompted many single adult women in rural communities to seek employment in urban areas, where they face limited opportunities. Moreover, traditional gender roles in Africa have exacerbated the plight of women, many of whom are subjected to AIDS as a result of forced sexual encounters within intimate relationships and instances of rape. Finally, it is worth noting that AIDS is more prevalent in urban areas due to easier access to the sex/prostitution industry.

In rural areas, the loss of household members to AIDS has resulted in the loss of the labor force.

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