28 million people in Africa have been infected with HIV. Think about that for a second… 28 MILLION! Today is “World AIDS Day”. Before this year I paid little if any attention to this day or the effect of HIV/ AIDS in the world in general. Not until I lived among people who are HIV positive did I really see the impact in front of my face. This ugly disease has engulfed continent of Africa. Focusing it’s attention on sub-Saharan where the poverty rate is high and unprotected sex was common. HIV/AIDS has been reported in every country in the world and has left 39 million people dead in it’s tracks.
The oldest confirmed case of AIDS was in 1959 in a Congolese men found from a frozen blood sample. The first recorded history did not show up until 1981 where many cases were found in New York and San Francisco.
HIV/ AIDS is still a problem and people around the world are contracting HIV to this day. HIV can be transmitted in several forms, but the most common ones being heterosexual sex, anal sex. Living in Swaziland where 50% of the pregnant women are HIV+, a high presence of HIV prevention is on stopping mother to child transmission. Safe sex practices including condom usage is also highly encouraged (free condoms are available in most public places in Swaziland).
HIV/AIDS has torn apart families, left a large amount of children without their parents, and has left the median age of the Swazi people at mere 15 years old.
It has almost been a year since I even heard of the small country of Swaziland that I live in today. One of the first facts I learned about this country was that it had the highest percentage of people living with HIV; close to 31%. Hearing this statistic when I was in America, I felt shocked and didn’t really know what the impact was in the lives of Swazi’s.
Now, in Swaziland my heart becomes frustrated and devastated when confronted with the topic, because it hits so close to home. On my homestead alone, 4 people in the last 10 years have died from AIDS. There is always a soreness in my heart when people tell me how their loved one “passed away from being very ill”, the word AIDS is very little if ever used in explaining how someone died.
I just wanted to share some of my story as I am “on the ground” in sub-Saharan, in Swaziland learning peoples stories. The HIV/AIDS crisis in Africa has been over looked when it came to the nonexistent medications in the first part of the epidemic. People in the USA had life saving ARV’s for many years before they made their way to Africa. I’m happy to say it has gotten a lot better since the first days of HIV. ARV’s are free to all Swazi’s and are highly encouraged for pregnant women to take. Swaziland has a brighter future than it did in the past, yet still a lot of work needs to be done!
If your more interested in HIV/ AIDS in Africa I’m currently reading a book called “28 stories of AIDS in Africa” by Stephanie Nolen. This book is really fantastic and paints a realistic picture of the history HIV and how it has impacted Africa. This is also where I got all my statistics from!
Also another great resource for y’all who don’t like books:
Educate yourself on world AIDS day!