Posts filed under ‘AIDS/HIV’

HIV/AIDS:Facts And Statistics

The AIDS and HIV crisis is effecting millions of people worldwide everyday. Many of the victims live in poverty and  do not have the accessibility to healthcare that many in first world countries enjoy. This entry will: give you a definition of HIV/AIDS, how it affects people worldwide by region,some facts and statistics to help you better understand the scale of the problem, and how stigmas are slowing down progress in beating this crisis.

HIV(Human Immunodeficiency Virus): A medical condition that attacks the immune system and T-helper cells.

AIDS(Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome): A medical condition and is diagnosed when someone’s immune system is too weak to fight of infection.

The epidemic has had a devastating impact on societies, in countries that are the most affected the life expectancy has dropped to as little as 20 years. The people most at risk are young adults so these countries are also facing slow economic growth, and well as increases in poverty. Many that die have children and leave them behind, Africa for example has as many as 14 million orphaned children and that number is growing everyday.

North America and Western and Central Europe:

HIV and AIDS in higher income countries continues to rise , largely due to ARV therapy that prolongs the life of HIV positive people. This also means there is a larger pool of people who are able to transmit the virus on to someone else. It is estimated that 1.4 million people in North America and 850,000 in western and central Europe. In these two regions 38,000 people lost their battle with HIV.

Eastern Europe And Central Asia:

The epidemic in these areas are quickly expanding. In 2008 the number of people newly infected was 110,000, adding to the 1.5 million already living with the disease. Only a small portion of the HIV positive people in these areas have access to ARV therapy so the death rate in these areas is higher than it otherwise might be, the rate stands at around 87,000 people a year.

Asia:

In India alone 2-3.1 million people are HIV positive. The current estimate for the entire continent of Asia is 4.7 million.

Sub-Saharan Africa:

By far the area in the world most severely affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic.  The region has around 10% of the world’s population and 67% of the people living in this region of the world are HIV positive. 1.9 million people became infected in 2008 alone, bringing the total number of HIV positive people in the area to 22.4 million. In 2008 alone, 1.4 million people died as a result of HIV/AIDS. The average survival in the absence of treatment is 10 years after infection. ARV therapy can dramatically extend the survival and allow a person to live many years of healthy life, but this treatment is unavailable to most people living in the area.

North Africa And The Middle East:

In 2008 35,000 people in the area were newly infected with HIV, bringing the estimated number of HIV positives to 310,000 in the area, and 20,000 of these people lost their battle with HIV the same year.

Latin America And The Caribbean:

In these two regions of the world, 2.24 million people are living with HIV/AIDS. In 2008 there were 190,000 new infections, and 89,000 people died the same year. The largest epidemic in the area is Brazil with 730,000.

Facts & Statistics:

(these are the facts from 2008)

  • 33.4 million people were living with HIV/AIDS
  • 31.3 million adults living with HIV/AIDS
  • 15.7 million women living with HIV/AIDS
  • 2.1 million children living with HIV/AIDS
  • 2.7 million people were newly infected with HIV/AIDS
  • .43 million children were newly infected with HIV/AIDS
  • The total amount of deaths were 2 million
  • The total amount of deaths in children were .28 million
  • More than 25 million people have died since 1981
  • Africa alone has over 14 million AIDS orphans
  • In developing and transitional countries 9.5 million are in immediate need of life saving medicine, out of these only 4 million (42%) are receiving these drugs
  • The number of people living with HIV/AIDS has increased from 8 million in 1990 to 33 million today.
  • In Sub-Saharan Africa 67% of people are living with HIV

Why is there a stigma related to HIV and AIDS?

Fear of getting the virus itself, coupled with value-based assumptions and general ignorance (whether purposeful or not) leads to the high level of stigma attached to HIV/AIDS.

Reasons why the stigma exists:

  • HIV and AIDS are often associated with behaviors that are already stigmatized in many societies such as homosexuality, drug addiction, promiscuity, and prostitution, people how view those with HIV or AIDS negatively will argue that those who have gotten the virus “deserved it” or that they were “asking for it”. Leading to the conclusion that it is the result of a person’s irresponsibility.
  • There is a lot of inaccurate information on how HIV is transmitted creating irrational behavior and misperceptions of personal risk.
  • Religious or moral views often lead people to believe that those infected are being punished for a moral fault such as promiscuity, and that they deserve to be punished for that.

In trying to understand why there is a stigma attached to HIV and AIDS it is important to remember that it is still a relatively  new disease and the widespread fear and panic of the 1980’s is still fresh in many people’s minds. And many of the irrational fears are still present even in developed countries where treatment for the disease is widely available. For example a recent study found that around 27% of Americans would stated that they would prefer not to work closely with someone infected with HIV.

What effects has the stigma attached to HIV and AIDS had?

The stigma attached to HIV and AIDS has had a profundly large impact. The World Heath Organization (WHO) has stated that the fear and stigma attached to those infected is the number one reason why people are reluctant to get tested, to disclose their status, or to take antiretroviral drugs. This contributes to the spread of HIV because the reluctance to be tested, disclose their status, or to practice safe sex means that people with HIV are more likely to infect others resulting in a higher number of AIDS related deaths. An unwillingness to be tested also means that those with HIV are diagnosed late when then virus has already progressed to AIDS making treatment harder and less effective, often leading to early death.

The widespread fear and stigma is also responsible for the low uptake of the prevention of mother-to-child transmission programmes even in countries where it is free. For example in Botswana, only 26% of pregnant women have used this opportunity to protect their unborn children. Over half refused to take the test, and nearly half of those who did, and tested positive refused to accept treatment.

Research by the International Center For Research On Women (ICRW) found that the possible consequences of HIV related stigma are:

  • Loss of income/livelihood
  • Loss of marriage & childbearing options
  • Poor care within the health sector
  • Withdrawal of caregiving in the home
  • Loss of hope & feelings of worthlessness
  • Loss of reputation

Different kinds of HIV/AIDS related stigma:

The stigma often leads to discrimination and denied opportunities to those infected with the virus all over the world, based solely on their HIV status, affecting them in all areas of their life.

1. The Government

A countries laws and polices regarding HIV can have a large impact on the lives of those living with the condition. Discriminatory practices often alienate people living with HIV and lead to a reinforcement of the stigma. In 2008 it was reported that 67% of countries now have some form of legislation in place to protect those with HIV from discrimination and unfair treatment. All though this is certainly progress some argue that the laws are not good enough and still allow for some forms of discrimination.

The government has a large variety of ways in which it can discriminate against individuals or communities that have (or are even suspected of having) HIV here are just a few of the many examples:

    • The president of Uganda, supports the national policy of dismissing or not promoting members of the armed forces who test HIV positive.
    • The Chinese advocates compulsory HIV testing for any citizen who had been living outside of the country for more than one year.
    • The UK legal system can prosecute individuals who pass the virus onto someone else, even if the person did it without intent.

2. Healthcare

In healthcare settings those with HIV may be subjected to discriminated by:

    • Being refused medicine
    • Being refused access to facilities
    • Receiving HIV testing without their consent
    • Lack of confidentiality

Doctors in healthcare settings that are resource poor in areas with little to no drugs are often not prioritized, and sometimes even refused treatment because it is believed that they are “doomed to die”.Discriminated in healthcare settings is not confined to developing countries, it has been reported in many developed countries. How can we help fix this? By making doctors realize the negative impact that stigma has on an HIV patient, encourages doctors to have accurate information about the risk of HIV infection, and encouraging them to not associate HIV with immoral behavior.

3. Employment

In the workplace those who are HIV positive may face discrimination and stigma from their co-workers and employers such as social isolation,ridicule, and they can face discriminatory practices such as termination or refusal of employment. This is a problem largely faced in developing countries it is also a significant problem in developing countries as well.

4. Restrictions on travel and stay

Many countries have laws that restrict the entry,stay or residence of those who are HIV positive. Almost 60% of countries have laws that specifically apply to people with HIV and AIDS based on their positive status alone. This number does not include countries whose legislation include such language as “contagious” or “transmittable diseases” if HIV and AIDS are not mentioned specifically.

    • Until January 4, 2010 the United States restricted all HIV positive people from entering the country, whether their were visiting on holiday or on a long term basis.
    • Twenty two countries including Russia, Egypt, and South Korea deport all foreigners based on their HIV positive status alone.
    • Study by students is restricted in some countries such as Malaysia and Syria if the student is HIV positive
    • There are travel restrictions for HIV positive people in 196 countries around the world

5. Community

Those who are HIV positive face discrimination and stigma in their communities all over the world this can have a large impact on their life. If the reaction is hostile enough, which in many cases it is, the person with HIV may have to live their home or change their daily activities and schedule such as shopping, socializing, and schooling. Discrimination can come in many forms ostracism,rejection,verbal and physical abuse this hostility has even extended to murder.

6.Family

In the majority of developing countries the families are usually the primary caregivers if someone falls ill. Not all family responses are positive however, and HIV positive people may face discrimination, abuse and stigma from within their own homes.


September 23, 2010 at 2:56 pm Leave a comment


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