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HIV in South Africa Essay

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Updated: Jul 6th, 2020


The HIV pandemic is considered as among the most destructive of health crises of the 20th and 21st century. The death toll from this scourge continues to rise as the search for a cure continues. The South Saharan Africa is among the hardest hit with up to 6.1 percent of the adult population living with the virus.

This percentage represents the infected population alone (Lori 1). The number of affected individuals include more men, women and children who depend or rely on the infected for livelihood.

This saddening state of affairs is the foundation of my research that seeks to evaluate the HIV AIDS scourge as a human security concern. I will give specific regard to South Africa where at least 5.6 million people are living with the virus with an annual death toll of at least 310,000 adults.

This makes South Africa among the most affected countries in the world. Among the middle-aged adults between the age of 15 and 49, the prevalence is up to 17.8 percent (Strode and Kitty 7). This has trapped the state between the local need to maintain and provide treatment for the infected and the international and global campaign to eradicate the disease.

This has led to the formulation, implementation and adaptation of the various measures aimed at securing medical treatment and social acceptance of the victims while maintaining a margin of economic growth and social confidence.

From the simplistic approach of human security, human sanctity and social responsibility, this research is inspired to take an analytical and critical approach in combating HIV and AIDS in South Africa as a human security concern. This approach provides for the individual role, duty and responsibility to safeguard and maintain a conducive livelihood (Parsons Pp. 1-83).

Literature Review

The human security concept is considered as being a historical as well as a contemporary concept that has survived the various eras and ideological regimes by undergoing through three main phases. The first was the simplistic and physical conception of weaponry and military hardware. This was motivated by the climax of the industrial revolution and the need to safeguard territory and boundary.

It was characterized by the two World Wars that saw an extensive destruction of property and human life. This negative side of the warfare led to the re-interpretation of human security on the onset of the Cold War that ushered in the second phase of the human security approach.

This second phase was centered on capitalist ideology and post communism concepts. Human security was then considered as a representation of the value attached to social balance and coexistence amidst economic competition and differences. This era saw the signing of numerous treaties concerning various sectors and fields of interest for nations and states.

It was characterized by the commencement and end of the Cold War along with the various anti weaponry campaigns that culminated in the Geneva conventions. This phase was however short lived as the focus suddenly changed to embrace the emerging contemporary concerns such as terrorism and pandemics. The interstate disputes were no longer a center of interest as more pressing concerns came up.

Terrorism, poverty and civil conflict took the center stage and became the focal point for nations and international organizations. This change is fundamentally motivated by democracy and the need to enforce the principle of natural justice and rule of law across administrative regimes.

However, there can never be a specific comprehensive approach that fully explains the concept of human security and the change in goal posts by the various theorists and research scientists. Though, there are pertinent commonalities and similarities in the various proposed approaches.

Majority take a physical security approach to the human security concept advocating for the physical safety of members of society as being the correct interpretation of human security while others employ the dignity approach that advocates for security beyond the physical structural security of the person.

The dignity approach suggests that it is the economic, social and political harmony that amounts to human security and ultimately social dignity (Donnelly pp. 85-111).

A harmony of these two arguments, appropriately reconciles the conflict between them since it is imperative that it is not enough to build a fortress around a city. There is a subsequent need to ensure that the political, social and economic aspects of the territory being protected are worth the trouble.

In the various respects, therefore the human security concept can be reconciled to be a balance between the military, physical, economic as well as the socio-cultural aspects that represents the development of dignity and ultimate prosperity.

This balance is specifically exemplified by the South African history that dates back to the apartheid rule that sought to begin with physical security at the expense of the social and economic security.

However, the lack of economic and political security slowly motivated the rise of civil unrest making it clearly insecure even for the physically secured areas. The liberation struggle marked the need for political and economic stability. This clearly the inadvertent interdependence between the two approaches to human security (Held pp. 53-72).

Subsequently, the state has been left with little option but to operate under the compromise of both approaches. This has motivated the signing of the various peace agreements and treaties that have not only maintained political but social security as well as physical security by safeguarding economic growth.

Modern research scientists take the concept further by advocating for the use of economic means to facilitate and secure human development and sanctity. This goes contrary to the capitalist adaptation that has seen human needs adjust to serve economic interests.

They advocate for adjusting economic opportunities to serve human development. In this, pretext the individual access to reliable and cost effective healthcare facilities along with equitable access to opportunities for economic profitability locally and regionally builds up to the human security concept.

This line of argument sets the stage for the presentation of AIDS as a human security concern. It interferes and hinders the enjoyment of the fundamental precepts of human dignity. It causes a human resource shortage and limits the market potential of the available remaining human resource. This acts to hinder and deter the physical as well as the broader concept of human security.

The human sanctity premise provides that every citizen has an equal intrinsic value. The premise proposes that every citizen has an equal talent value and is therefore entitled to an equal opportunity to contribute to social life. Human security on the other hand offers protection of the physical self and furthers the self-expression presupposition centered on human integrity.

AIDS infects an individual but the community at large feels its effects. The failure or lack of effective measures by the government to control the spread of the pandemic amounts to a compromise of their duty to maintain physical security and by extension human security. It should therefore be the case that AIDS compromises human security in numerous respects (Booysen Pp. 125-144).

Purpose of Research

The primary goal of this research is to establish a connection and relationship between AIDS as a pandemic and human security. Human security will be approached from a personalized approach by discussing the obligation of individual institutions and persons such as the government, corporations and individuals.

To achieve this, the research will establish a case for the relationship between the premise of human sanctity and human security as the link between the actors of HIV and AIDS and the responses to these actors in the context of the fight against the disease in South Africa. This will also offer a basis for the making of quantified conclusions and recommendations in policy and practice.

Undeniably, the need for viable and justifiable policies and procedures for sustainable human security continues to increase with the increase in the number of people infected with the virus.

It comes at a time when South Africa continues to counter the effects of declining state sovereignty and increasing local demand for a stable political environment. This study therefore aims at providing a reliable solution to the procurement and protection of human security (Patton and Sawick Pp. 21-73).

Research Question

The limited access to sustainable livelihoods has become a serious motivator of the increasing number of cases of HIV infections. It leads to subsequent social structural instability that diminishes the standards of human security and sanctity. This study investigates the place of HIV/ AIDS as a human security concern in the context of the HIV AIDS scenario in South Africa.

Research method

This research engages secondary information that has been accumulated for two years on the HIV AIDS pandemic in South Africa and the human security concept. The data draws from reports on interactions with citizens in various townships and cities in the greater Johannesburg Pretoria that were made by researchers in the various reports and researches.

The secondary information is interrogated in the order of relevance and the appropriate citations made to support the various opinions and suggestions. An analysis of the various proposed arguments along with personal input on the subject of human security and the HIV/AIDS pandemic will offer a diverse and holistic argument for the security of sanctity and the sanctity of security.

The HIV /AIDS is portrayed as a justification for the need to employ this argument in the development and drafting of the various policies and procedures that the government of South Africa adopts and implements (Terrblanche 98).

Limitations of the research

Human security like all other concepts has the capacity to accommodate al individuals and nations. This in effect leads to a strong limitation in the maximum possible scope that can be covered by a single report since it would be infeasible to attempt to accommodate all these players.

A further limitation exists in the fact that the research is limited to secondary information that is chosen based on the availability and accessibility of the information. This could lead to a considerable amount of bias (Harvey pp. 53-72).

Results and discussion

The focal point of this discussion and research are three questions. The first concerns what exactly is security while the second is what exactly sanctity is. The final question goes to ascertain the relationship between AIDS sanctity and security.

Human sanctity

Sanctity is a representation of the humane individuality in a person. It is an aspect of the person that is considered inherent and an articulation of fulfillment of the person. From an enlightment perspective, sanctity is a representation of the capability of the human to be rational. It is considered to exist as an end to human beings as opposed to being a means.

This approach interrogates sanctity as an end as well as a means for a livelihood to the person. The modernist rationalist as well as the intrinsic human dignity arguments motivates the contrast between these two conceptions as portrayed in the concept of globalization. The responsibility lies in every human to safeguard and protect individual actualization and actively participate in maintaining such actualization.

The responsibility of the individual lies in protecting and developing dignity. The individual is under a duty to maintain the economic political and social duty to develop, enable and maintain a suitable economic environment for the livelihood and life beyond living.

The individual, the state and corporations have an interdependent duty to create a favorable environment for the development of the intrinsic worth of human life (Hemmati pp. 39-72).

Sanctity and freedom

Freedom is the ultimate measure of social security and forms the basis. It is an indication of the effectiveness of initiatives undertaken by the individual, corporations and the state in maintaining social security. Security of society by extension offers security to the individual. Social effectiveness therefore presents opportunity for the improvement of the individuals well being.

This approach however faces several challenges arising from globalization. The globalization approach disputes individualization of the responsibility to maintain social security and advocates for the need for unified effort for the common good (Sacks 45). This therefore limits the extent to which the individual can exercise their personal freedom without necessarily considering the opinion and of others in the same issue.

In the alternative, the individual responsibility can be considered as a social commitment. There exists a collective responsibility to the individual to react to problems of society such as poverty, hunger, inflation, famine as well as the infringement of others socio-political and economic freedoms.

By this we recognize the relationship between the personal freedom and the economic social and political balance(Lukes pp. 83-139). The key purpose of this freedom is to guarantee a sustainable livelihood. This therefore creates the individual agency obligation and duty to the various stakeholders to individually cooperate with the collective effort of society to safeguard human security (Stiglitz 78).

Human security

The basic theme in the relationship between sanctity and security is that sanctity acts as a prerequisite of security while in the alternative; there lies a duty of security to safeguard sanctity. Dignity in this context is considered as an intrinsic sanctity that should be secured at all costs.

From a different approach, the need for human security arises due to the lack of such security or otherwise the existence of insecurity. In the contemporary context, there are numerous emerging instances of insecurity majority of which are motivated by economic interests as well as related industrial and technological changes. AIDS falls one among these.

The technological revolution has stimulated the rate of change and increased the speed at which societies are flourishing. Human beings on the other hand adapt readily to these changes, a capacity that is fully invested in the human ability to develop and modify their dignity through constant change of their environment and surroundings.

Even so, the greater and more intense forces of political and economic pressure more often than not lead to the limitation of access to resources. The mobile modernity continues to worsen this state of affairs by increasing the pressures to the overstretched human security situation.

These pressures continue to increase faster than trade its self-taking advantage of globalization. This can be adequately represented by the rate at which AIDS is spreading in South Africa (Nyamnjoh pp. 1-18)

Security and development

Human development differs greatly from human security in several respects. While human security operates on the paradigm of human freedom and the capacity for self-actualization. Human development tows the argument for the extrinsic capacity of the individual to modify their environment and surrounding to improve their livelihood as well as that of others (Leftwich pp. 605-624).

Human security “recognizes the conditions that menace survival, the continuation of daily life and the dignity of human beings” (Human Security 10). Human development provides a platform for an increase in the social status of an individual and the elimination of any pertinent un-freedoms. It operates on the premise of an equity-motivated growth in benefits and resources available to the society.

It furthers the optimistic conception of self-actualization and the ability to take advantage of opportunity for individual and common good. Despite these varying arguments the human security and human development, there exist a cautious but zealous objective to maintain human security (Toulmin 39).

AIDS, Sanctity and Human Security in South Africa

From the basic understanding and interpretation, AIDS is a viral disease of the body and has detrimental effects on its victims. It is considered among the worst health crises of the modern world and has to its name a heavy death toll that continues to increase by the day.

In South Africa, it continues to spread faster than a bushfire. Innovative attempts have led to the development and manufacture of a retroviral alternative that serves as a temporary resolve for the infected. This however is not a preventive mechanism but rather maintenance of the situation.

Researchers propose a continued increase in the statics in South Africa despite the increasing number of protective measures and investment in the prevention campaign (Polu and Whiteside 67).

The virus is transmitted mostly through intimate human interactions that are more common in South African heterosexual society. Motivated by ignorance and lack of adequate information, the number of virus infections among the adult population continues to increase with a considerable portion of these persons passing the disease to their young ones leading to a continuous cycle of infection (Tutu 57).

However, a medical condition, HIV and AIDS appeals to the human capacity to safeguard their dignity and to remain cautious to the destructive potential of the disease to both physical as well as the intrinsic security. From the economic realm, AIDS impedes the capacity and ability of workers to produce and limits the labor resource (Nicholson pp. 163-177).

In South Africa AIDS is estimated to reduce the Gross Domestic Product by at least 17 percent by 2020 (Monteiro pp. 1-26). In response to this security concern, the government has instigated contingency measures by securing antiretroviral drugs (Dunn pp. 137-188). This however falls short of the eminent food security and medical treatment concerns that come with the increase in the infections.

Conclusions And Recommendations.

The burden of infection or living an infection free life calls to an individual responsibility. It is apparent that the onset and influence of the Apartheid regime set the stage for the severe increase and prevalence of the HIV and AIDS scourge.

All researches interrogated acknowledge a relationship between human sanctity human security and more importantly the place that HIV and AIDS has as a human security demotivator. In effect, the individual has a responsibility to act on and react to HIV and AIDS information to prevent the spread of the virus.

In this same spirit, the various stakeholders such as the South African government, individuals and corporation have a duty to act as agents in the common goal and fight to maintain human security by eradicating and the disease (Grindle and Thomas Pp. 95-120).

Corporations on their part have duty to provide their employees with adequate access to information on the prevention treatment and control of the disease both for the security of their interests in terms of productivity and profitability as well as the security of the employees.

Works Cited

Booysen, Susan. Transitions and trends in policymaking in democratic South Africa. Journal of Public Administration, 36(2). (2001) pp. 125-144.

Donnelly, Jack. Twentieth-Century Realism. Traditions of International Ethics. Terry Nardin and David R. Mapel, eds. (1992) pp. 85-111.

Dunn. William. Public Policy Analysis: An Introduction. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Chapter 5 Structuring Policy Problems, (1994) pp. 137-188.

Grindle, Merilee and Thomas, John. Public Policy Choices and Policy Change: The Political Economy of Reform in Developing Countries. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press. (1991) pp. 95-120.

Harvey, David. “Spaces of Hope”. Contemporary Globalization, Berkeley: University of California Press. (2002) pp. 53-72.

Held, David. Liberalism, Marxism and Democracy. In S. Hall, D. Held and T. McGrew (Eds.) Modernity and its Futures. Cambridge: Open University and Polity Press, (1992) pp. 14-47.

Hemmati, Minu. Multi-Stakeholder Processes for Governance and Sustainability. Beyond Deadlock and Conflict. London: Earthscan Publications (2002) pp. 39-72.

Human Security – Human Security Now. United Nations. 2003. Web.

Leftwich, Adrian. Governance, Democracy and Development in the Third World. Third World Quarterly, 24, 3, (1993) pp. 605-624.

Lori, Ashford. How HIV and AIDS affect populations. Washington: Population Reference Bureau. 2011. Print.

Lukes, Steven. Power and Authority, in Moral Conflict and Politics. New York: Oxford University Press, (2002) pp. 83-139.

Monteiro, Oscar. Public Administration and Management Innovation in Developing Countries. Institutional and Organizational Restructuring of the Civil Service in Developing Countries Paper developed for the UNDP, (2002) pp. 1-26.

Nicholson, Norman. Policy Choices and the uses of state power: the work of Theodore J. Lowi. Policy Sciences. June 2002, Vol. 35(2) (2002) pp. 163-177.

Nyamnjoh, Francis. Globalizations, Boundaries, and Livelihoods: Perspectives on Africa. Philosophia Africana, 6, 2, (2003) pp. 1-18.

Parsons, Wayne. Public Policy: Introduction to the Theory and Practice of Policy Analysis. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar. (1995) pp. 1-83.

Patton, Carol and Sawick, David. (2 Edition) Basic Methods of Policy Analysis and Planning. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall (1986) pp. 21-73.

Polu, Nana., and Alan, Whiteside. The Political Economy of AIDS in Africa: Ashgate. 2003. Print.

Sacks, Jonathan. Dignity of Difference: How to Avoid the Clash of Civilizations. London and New York: Continuum. 2003. Print.

Stiglitz, Joseph. Globalization and Its Discontents. New York: W.W. Norton and Company. 2003. Print.

Strode, Ann and Kitty Barrett. Understanding the institutional dynamics of South Africa’s response to the HIV AND AIDS pandemic. A report of the Governance and AIDS Programme of the Institute for Democracy in South Africa, supported by the Ford Foundation. Pretoria, South Africa: Institute for Democracy in South Africa (IDASA). 2004.

Terrblanche, Solomon. A History of Inequality in South Africa 1652-2002. Pietermaritzburg: University of Natal Press. 2002.

Toulmin, Stephen. Cosmopolis: The Hidden Agenda of Modernity. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.1990.

Tutu, Desmond. God Has a Dream. Johannesburg, South Africa: Rider.2004.

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