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How the AIDS epidemic has affected the world on a political, social, economical way Essay

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Updated: Jan 29th, 2020

Introduction

AIDS is an international epidemic that has interfered with the political, social and economic status of most states in the world. It is an epidemic that was discovered in the 1980s, and since then it has taken many lives, not to mention, both adults and children, scientists have been involved in vigorous research, although they have not been successful in discovering its cure.

However, they have managed to come up with some drugs that suppress the effects of the disease in the human body, although they do not cure. AIDS knows no boundaries and affects all groups of people.

Many children have been orphaned at a very early age while some partners have lost their spouses to this deadly disease. These people go through a lot of economic hardships trying to adjust to their predicament while their social status continues to deteriorate. Governments have spent large sums of money in providing medication for the diseased and there is still much to be done.

This paper give a brief overview of the history of AIDS, looks at the prevalence of AIDS in some of the highly affected countries, and gives the political, economic, and social impacts of AIDS in the world. Some of these impacts include loss of loved ones, increased demand for health services, increased cost of medication, reduction in labor supply, among others.

History of AIDS

People are believed to have suffered from AIDS as early as the 1970s although the disease had not been discovered by then. AIDS was discovered in 1980 and it is believed to have originated from Africa. At first, it was common among gay men and some people referred to it as gay-related immune deficiency (GRID) while others referred to it as gay cancer[1].

It was not clear what caused the disease back then and scientist engaged in all sorts of researches to investigate on the causes of the epidemic. It was in June 1982 when a study was carried on a group of gay men from California who were suffering from the disease.

The report suggested that the disease was sexually transmitted and was caused by an infectious agent[2]. By July the same year, more than 450 cases had been reported from over 23 states and the disease started growing at an alarming rate and it begun affecting non-homosexuals[3].

It was in September 1982 that the acronym AIDS standing for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome was discovered and was used in journals and newspapers and since then, the epidemic of AIDS has been affecting virtually everyone and it is common in every state.

HIV/AIDS in the world

Africa is believed to be hit the most by the epidemic of AIDS. As at 2007, one in every ten adults (15-49 years) was infected by the virus in nine countries while one in every five adults is living with the virus in three countries from the south[4]. South Africa has the biggest percentage of people living with Aids (18.1%) than other African countries[5].

However, the rates of infections are enormously high in the sub-Saharan countries where more than 1.9 million people are infected with the virus every year. Today, there are more than 22 million Africans living AIDS with the biggest percent being women[6]. As the rates if infection increases more people are at risk of contacting the disease because the chances of having sex with an infected person rise.

West Africa is estimated to have the least number of people living with the virus although the prevalence is rising in some large countries, for instance, Cote d’Ivoire is ranked among the top 14 countries in terms of HIV infection while more than 2.6 million adults and children are living with the disease. In East Africa, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, the rate of HIV infections was estimated to be 5%[7].

The epidemic of AIDS seems to be more diverse in Asia than in Africa. It is approximated that nearly half of the entire populace in the globe resides in Asia and thus a minor increase in the number of infectivity in Asia may have vast impact to the number of individuals infected all over the globe.

More than 4.7 million people live with the disease in Asia with the highest percentage being the homosexuals, drug users and sex workers[8]. Most of the countries in Asia have taken quick measures to combat the spread of the disease, for instance, Thailand has launched extensive campaigns to enlighten the public about the disease consequently preventing the spread of HIV.

Other nations such as China remain behind when it comes to the prevention of HIV since they had not entirely accepted that the extent of HIV would threaten their populace.[9] There is need for quick and effective actions to be taken in these countries before the epidemic take more lives than it has already done.

The AIDS scourge may increase further in Asia following the increased use of banned drugs as well as booming sex trade not forgetting the fact that there are increased movements across and within borders. Globalization has led to an expansion of the international market and many people are moving from one country to the other facilitating the spread of AIDS. Many countries have not been able to access the treatment for AIDS although many efforts are being made for the same.

The utilization of anti-viral remedy is to a large extent improving the length as well as quality of life for individuals existing with the virus even though they are also escalating the percentage of citizens living with the illness thereby augmenting the pervasiveness figures for HIV. Several scientists are worried about the harm that is created by the HIV preclusion activities particularly when a lot of efforts and funds are devoted to the provision of treatment.

In the developed nations, HIV infections are common among homosexuals and injecting drug users. These groups of people are at high risk of the disease although heterosexual intercourse also accounts for the increase in HIV cases. In the U.S. 25% of the people diagnosed with the virus in 2008 were women and about 75% of these women had contracted the disease through heterosexual sex[10].

In other countries such as the U.K. and Europe, heterosexual intercourse accounts for over 75% of new infections[11]. At the early stages of the epidemic, a lot of information was provided to large population on ways of preventing the disease. With this information, the number of unprotected sex decreased and the demand for reproductive health services such as, HIV testing and counseling started increasing.[12]

On the other hand, the prevention work has been declining and many children are not given sexual-health education notwithstanding the fact that many governments are sentient of the risks of HIV. Politicians have been left with the work of preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS, although most of them avoid discussing any sex related issue.

Political Effects of the AIDS Epidemic

Before the epidemic was recognized in the early 1980s, the HIV virus was widely spread among homosexuals and it had already affected a large population. Many prevention campaigns were launched which were targeted at the homosexuals and risky sexual behavior reduced significantly and the rate of infections also reduced towards the late 1980s.

However, recent information propose that, risky sex behavior is increasing in many parts of the world because many people think that the danger posed by the disease is over now because the media no longer covers issues related to HIV/AIDS.

Many countries have already started massive prevention efforts although others still lag behind in terms of prevention because the political costs of prevention are assumed to be too high to initiate or maintain the prevention programs and some developed countries continue to suffer from the effects of the disease because they hold that HIV affects other people and not their communities.[13]

This view hinders policy makers and budget setters in designing strategies aimed at preventing the epidemic. It is seen as an issue that is common in Africa and other low income countries. Some of these developed countries for instance America provides treatment for patients in low-income countries and fails to provide treatment for their own citizens[14].

Just like any other person, politicians too have lost their lives to the AIDS epidemic. This interferes with economic development since; the government has to replace the diseased who may have been a very influential person. Further more, voters registers are affected because of the increased mortality rate forcing the government to conduct regular voters’ registration exercise, which is not only expensive but time consuming.

A significant sum of money is spent on this exercise which may leave the government in debts or force it to borrow aids from other nations. Government’s demographic statistics are also interfered with and they do not represent the real figure because the death rate is higher than the birth rate in many states.

Economic effects

A significant sum of money has been spent on HIV/AIDS treatment but still large groups of people cannot access the treatment. This has attracted the attention of the global environment in assisting poor countries to fight against this epidemic. South Africa is believed to have been the most affected by the epidemic and its economy continues to deteriorate. AIDS differs from other diseases in that it strikes people when they are at their most productive age and it is 100% fatal than other diseases[15].

The economic effects caused by the epidemic vary depending on its severity and the national structure. Most nations suffer from a reduction in labor supply and increased costs which are incurred in the treatment process. As we have seen the epidemic strikes young adults at their productive stage thereby reducing the labor supply.

The direct costs associated with AIDs include but are not limited to expenditures on drugs, funeral expenses, and medical care[16] . There are some indirect costs which include recruitment and training costs which are incurred when an employee dies; a lot of time is lost because of illness of employees and expenditure incurred in curing for orphans. The level of investment is also affected because some of the costs are financed out of saving.

A study conducted by the World Bank revealed that the economic impacts of AIDS in Africa is rampant than in other countries. These effects are first felt by the individual who has been infected by the virus and the families, and then ripple effects are felt by firms, businesses, and the macro-economy. In the family, economic impacts begin as soon as an individual has been diagnosed with the virus. The patient’s income reduces since he becomes less productive and it can even be worse if the patient is the breadwinner.

The family expenditure may increase significantly to cater for the medical expenses and some members of the family may be forced to dropout of school because of lack of school fees. This means that the impacts of the disease will be felt far and wide because these children are not able to access education, then their future is destroyed. The death of a patient leaves the family in a bad situation because it permanently loses a source of income and as if that is not enough it has to cater for the funeral costs of the diseased[17].

In Africa, a big portion of production and employment opportunities come from the agricultural sector. Studies done in some African countries for instance Tanzania have revealed that AIDS has adverse effects on agriculture including but not limited to loss of labor supply and remittance of income[18].

The reduction in manpower supply at the harvesting or planting phase can to a large extent lessen the probable harvest. Food security has been an issue in most of these countries and a slight reduction in the household production can have adverse impacts on the national level. The economic impacts of AIDS are also felt by firms. When employees are suffering from AIDS-related illness or death, the firms suffers not only from increased expenditure but also a reduction in revenue[19].

On the other hand, revenues declines because of employee absenteeism due to illness, time off for funerals, labor turnover, and time spent on training of new employees. A research carried out in Botswana and Kenya revealed that a swell in the cost of labor was as a result of regular absenteeism orchestrated by HIV/AIDS. Skyrocketing burial costs was also a factor.[20]

These costs can be analyzed as shown below:

  • HIV absenteeism 37%
  • Burial 16%
  • AIDS absenteeism 15%
  • Recruitment 9%
  • Training cost 7%
  • Funeral attendance 6%
  • Labor turnover 5%
  • Health care 5%

The impacts of AIDS are also experienced in other sectors among them being the education and water, health, transport, and mining. The heath sector is affected two folds; increased number of people seeking for health services, increased health care cost for treating AIDS patient and the education sector is affected in terms of supply of experienced teachers, children drop out of school because of lack of school fees or to care for a member of the family suffering from the virus[21].

Social impacts of HIV/AIDS

The social impacts of AIDS are first experienced by the family, and then the community and the effects ripple down to the whole nation. By striking the most productive persons in the society (the youth), the epidemic destroys the entire society. By interfering with the economic growth, it becomes difficult to provide some social services. The effects of AIDS are vicious, by increasing the levels of poverty; the population becomes more vulnerable to the spread of the virus making it even harder to control[22] .

Life expectancy at birth has fallen in many countries and the population structure has also changed, for instance, in South Africa, the life expectancy of children born after 2000 is 30 years less than the life expectancy before the start of the epidemic. Poverty has also deepened in most of the low-income countries especially the sub-Saharan Africa. There has been an increase in the number of premature births and fertility rates have reduced among the HIV positive women consequently reducing the birth rate[23].

The death rates have increased compared to the birth rate and this has affected the population growth. Many countries have suffered from high mortality rate among young adults leaving many children and old people without someone to look up to. More than 15 million children and adolescents have been orphaned at a very early age because of AIDS and have now become the heads of the households[24].

These children have to seek for means of earning a living, and some end up in prostitution where there are exposed to high risks of contacting AIDS. Their education is interred with, meaning that, they may end up in poverty for the rest of their life. Others loss hope and may opt to take away their life other than face the problems they are exposed to.

Most of the social impacts trickle down to the society because it has to look at the welfare of the public. When children are orphaned, it is not only the family that suffers, but the entire society. It has to come in to ensure that, these children do not lack the necessary things in life to enable them live normal lives. However, this is not usually the case, since in most societies; the children are left at the mercy of well wishers.

They struggle on their own and chances of contacting the disease remain to be high. We have a big number of children dropping out of school because they can not afford to pay their school fees; others have suffered from multiple illnesses without proper medication because they do not have a means to access health services. The diseased use large sums money in accessing treatment leaving the family in debts. Not to mention, funeral expenses have increased substantially and this leaves the family in a very bad financial status.

This not withstanding, the psychological and physical trauma that these people go through is immense and some of them are not able to recover after the death of their loved ones. Children who are orphaned live without experiencing parental love, which we know is very crucial at the early stage of development.

This does not only affect their present lives, but can haunt them for the rest of their lives. Some may respond positively to the struggles they go through while others may live in denial and fail to accept their predicament which can be detrimental both socially and psychologically. We have seen a big number of people who are able to accept their situation and work hard to ensure that it does not affect their future live, whereas others just sit and watch.

Conclusion

This paper looked at the history of AIDS, prevalence in some of the countries that have been hit most, and the political, social, and economic impacts of the deadly disease. The epidemic called AIDS was discovered in the early 1980s and since then it has been having political, economic, and social impacts in the countries suffering from the disease.

AIDS is rampant in Africa and most of the Asian countries such as China and India. In Africa, the highest number of cases is reported in South Africa and this has resulted in a decrease in the life expectancy. Through globalization, the international market has expanded and many people are moving from one country to the other facilitating the spread of AIDS.

In many countries, especially the developed nations, HIV infections are common among homosexuals and injecting drug users. Through research, scientists have been able to discover a drug that can be used to treat HIV positive patient, although it can not cure it. Anti- viral drugs repress the replication process which produces viruses, and by doing this, the length and quality of life of the HIV positive person is improved.

HIVAIDS mostly affects the young adults who are at their very productive stage. This does not only interfere with their personal life, but that of their dependents. In the family, economic impacts begin as soon as an individual has been diagnosed with the virus. The patient’s income reduces since he becomes less productive and it can even be worse if the patient is the breadwinner. The family expenditure may increase significantly to cater for the medical expenses and the children may be forced by the circumstances at home to leave school.

This epidemic also affects firms by lowering their productivity and increasing the costs. When employees are suffering from AIDS-related illness or death, the firms suffers not only from increased expenditure but also a reduction in revenue. The social impacts of AIDS are first experienced by the family, and then the community and the effects ripple down to the whole nation.

By striking the most productive persons in the society (the youth), the epidemic destroys the entire society. Social impacts associated with AIDS include, high mortality rates, reduced fertility, increased premature births, increased poverty levels, reduced life expectancy among others. Children from diseased parents are forced to drop out of school in order to care for other siblings or to look for a means of surviving.

Bibliography

Primary sources

Lavreys, Baeten J M, Martin H L, Overbaugh J, Mandaliya K, Kreiss, J K, “Hormonal contraception and risk of HIV-1 acquisition: results of a 10-year prospective study”. AIDS 18 (2004): 695–7.

UNAIDS. “2008 report on the global AIDS epidemic.” United Nation Aids Program, 2008. Web.

Secondary sources

Anon. “WGBH Educational Foundation, 2001. Web.

Anon. “Averting HIV and AIDS, 2010. Web.

Blechner, Mark. Hope and mortality: psychodynamic approaches to AIDS and HIV. Hillsdale, NJ: Analytic Press, 1997.

Epstein, Helen. The invisible cure: Africa, the West, and the fight against AIDS. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2007.

Hel Z, McGhee, J R, and Mesteckey, J. “HIV infection: first battle decides the war”. Trends Immunology, Elsevier publications ltd. 27 (2006): 274–81

Manish, Sagar. “Identification of modifiable factors that affect the genetic diversity of the transmitted HIV-1 population”. AIDS 18 (2004): 615–619.

Stover, John and Bollinger, Lori. “The center for Development and Population Activities (CEDPA), 1999. Web.

Footnotes

  1. Anon. “Evolution of AIDS.” WGBH Educational Foundation, 2001.
  2. Anon. “AIDS and HIV around the world.” Averting HIV and AIDS.
  3. Anon, ibid p 1
  4. Anon, ibid
  5. Anon, ibid
  6. UNAIDS. “2008 report on the global AIDS epidemic.” United Nation Aids Program, 2008.
  7. UNAIDS, ibid p 1
  8. UNAIDS, ibid
  9. Anon. “AIDS and HIV around the world.” Averting HIV and AIDS, 2010.
  10. UNAIDS, ibid
  11. UNAIDS, ibid
  12. UNAIDS, ibid
  13. Mark, Blechner. Hope and mortality: psychodynamic approaches to AIDS and HIV. (Hillsdale, NJ: Analytic Press, 1997).
  14. Mark, Bletcher, ibid
  15. Mark Bletcher, ibid
  16. Hel Z, et al. “HIV infection: first battle decides the war”. Trends Immunol. 27 (2006): 274–81
  17. Baeten, Lavreys, et al. “Hormonal contraception and risk of HIV-1 acquisition: results of a 10-year prospective study”. AIDS 18 (2004): 695–7.
  18. Helen, Epstein. The invisible cure: Africa, the West, and the fight against AIDS. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2007.
  19. Helen, Epstein ibid
  20. John, Stover and Lori, Bollinger. “The Economic impact of AIDS.” The center for Development and Population Activities (CEDPA), 1999.
  21. John, Stover and Lori, Bollinger, ibid.
  22. Sagar, Manish. “Identification of modifiable factors that affect the genetic diversity of the transmitted HIV-1 population”. AIDS 18 (2004): 615–619.
  23. Sagar, Manish, ibid.
  24. Sagar, Manish, ibid.
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