The Direct And Indirect Affect Of Hiv/Aids On Children In Africa

2286 words - 10 pages

The Direct and Indirect Effects of HIV/AIDS on Children and Youth in Africa
Rojish Thomas
English 202A
June 21, 2012

The Direct and Indirect Effects of HIV/AIDS on Children and Youth in Africa
HIV and AIDS are two of the most prevalent illnesses around the world today. HIV, or the human immunodeficiency virus, leads to AIDS, or the acquired immune deficiency syndrome. The disease damages a person’s body by destroying the blood cells that work to fight diseases; or in other words, by destroying a person’s immune system (“Basic Information about HIV and AIDS”, 2012). There are many adults all around the world who have acquired and have passed away from this disease. Africa is well ...view middle of the document...

Another statistic from this report states that there are more than 16 million children under the age of 18 who have lost one or both parents to AIDS (WHO, UNICEF, UNAIDS; 2011). According to the UNAIDS Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic of 2010, “in sub-Saharan Africa, where the majority of new HIV infections continue to occur, an estimated 1.8 million people became infected in 2009” (UNAIDS, 2010).
The children who are directly affected by the HIV/AIDS actually suffer from the disease themselves. There are many children who are infected by the virus who do not have the means to obtain their diagnosis, let alone the means to pay for and receive treatment. They may have been infected and then become orphans, leaving them with no one to care for them or to work to make money to pay for the expenses of treatment. They also may have a hard time finding a hospital or a clinic near them since there are not enough hospitals and clinics in countries in Africa. Dr. Louise Chang, who is a Medical Doctor and a member of both the American College of Physicians and the Society of General Internal Medicine, explains that HIV is transferred to children in several various ways: mother-to-child transmission, blood transfusions, illegal drug use, and sexual transmission (Chang, 2010, pg. 1). Mother-to-child transmission can occur either during pregnancy, labor and delivery, or breastfeeding. Sexual transmission can occur either consensually or through sexual abuse or rape.
According to the UNAIDS Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic 2010, nine out of ten children infected with HIV were infected through their mother either during pregnancy, labor and delivery, or breastfeeding (UNAIDS, 2010). To further elaborate on this point, Professor James McIntyre, Executive Director of the University of Witwatersrand's Perinatal HIV Research Unit, and an Associate Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Chris Hani Baragwaneth Hospital in Soweto, South Africa, states that “almost half of the 37.8 million people living with HIV globally are women and more than two million pregnancies occur in HIV-positive women each year” (McIntyre, 2005). He also states that “the majority of these are in resource-constrained settings where the risk of maternal morbidity and mortality is also unacceptably high” (McIntyre, 2005).
HIV/AIDS is also transferred to children through blood transfusions using infected blood or injections with unsterilized needles (Chang, 2010, pg. 1). This occurs more often in countries such as countries in Africa rather than in richer countries like the United States or European countries. Illicit drug use spreading HIV is found mostly in central and eastern Europe, where young people living on the streets share needles while taking drugs (“Children, HIV, and AIDS”, 2011). The final and more obvious way that HIV is transferred among children and youth is through sexual transmission, both consensual and through incidences of rape.
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