Moral Issues Surrounding AIDS in Africa
MoralIssues Surrounding AIDS in Africa
Inof 2015, there were about 37 million HIV-positive individualsglobally. Around 2 million people contracted the virus in the sameyear. AIDS has affected Africa much more than it has other regions ofthe world. In 2015, about 26 million people in Africa were livingwith AIDS. This disease claimed roughly 1.1 million lives in Africaalone in 2015. Although African nations hold approximately 13 percentof the global population, it accounts for a considerable portion ofthe AIDS prevalence rates in the world. While adult HIV prevalence isaround 1.2 percent globally, in Africa the average rate is almost 10percent. The countries worst hit by AIDS include Lesotho, Malawi,Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique.
Tocounter the AIDS epidemic, many organizations, such as the WorldHealth Organization, started offering help to African countries. Theyhave one moral issue, to lessen the number of deaths due to AIDS. Thebest way to fulfill this objective is by trying to reduce the numberof new infections. Most people in Africa contract AIDS due to sexualintercourse. Since more than four-fifths of new AIDS arise fromsexual activity, these organizations have found out that advocatingfor the use of condoms could significantly reduce the rate of newinfections to the level of Western countries (Barnett,2006).These organizations noted that although the rate of sexual activityin Africa and Western countries is almost similar, there is a muchhigher new infection rate in the former than in the latter. In 2015,North America, Western, and Central Europe combined had about 200000new HIV infections, while Africa had close to two million newinfections.
However,it has not been a smooth sailing for organizations seeking to tamethe AIDS epidemic in Africa. Since the primary mode of HIVtransmission is sexual activity, they have focused most of theirefforts and resources in advocating for safe sex, which includes theuse of condoms (Barnett,2006).Due to the sensitive nature of sexual matters in Africa, manyAfricans oppose moves by these organizations because they viewcondoms as immoral. Many African societies have strong religious andtraditional codes that they live by and tend to resist several newideas. A considerable portion of the population feels thatencouraging the use of condoms would lead to an increase inpromiscuous behavior.
Somesocieties have gone as far as claiming condoms to be the cause ofAIDS. Many traditional and religious beliefs regarding AIDS suggestthat the disease is a curse or punishment for one’s misbehavior.These opponents of condom use believe that once people begin usingcondoms, it will take away their sense of responsibility andrestraint concerning sex, which will lead to their recklessinvolvement in it and eventually get AIDS as a punishment from thegods. Even in modern societies, African cultures have the opinionthat the use of condoms will encourage promiscuity (Barnett,2006).In Africa, many societies have granted moral authority to religiousand traditional institutions, which create and implement codes ofconduct that govern all aspects of life. Therefore, many people donot regard other conflicting information from “outsiders” andresist change. Since the rate of new HIV infections mostly depends onthe level of the people’s knowledge and freedom to exercise theirsexual autonomously, many efforts to curb the spread of HIV/AIDSfail.
Thesolution to the above moral issues is knowledge. The moral obligationof the epidemiologists, saving lives, should not take precedence overother moral claims even if it brings a reduced infection rate.Organizations should focus on educating the influencers of societiessuch as the religious and traditional institutions, rather thanattempting to educate the masses directly. Many Africans, when facedwith the choice between following their moral leaders and foreignorganizations will most likely choose the former. The organizationsshould not only educate these moral leaders but also involve them inthe education campaigns to curb new AIDS infections. Once the peopleget the information from their role models, they will be much morelikely to follow it. This strategy will work because their leaderswould have made the new info regarding HIV prevention appearlegitimate to them. The moral leaders would make the information notto seem as coming from foreigners but from locals they trust, addingcredibility to it, and eventually leading to a reduction in the rateof new AIDS infections (Airhihenbuwa, Ford, & Iwelunmor, 2014).
Airhihenbuwa,Ford, & Iwelunmor (2014) conducted a study where they examinedmoral issues AIDS.Their study explores the various myths and misconceptions that havemade the fight against the disease not to be as effective as theyshould. The article also analyzes how these matters complicate thefight against AIDS. Airhihenbuwa,Ford, & Iwelunmor (2014) propose solutionson how to reduce the spread of diseases such as AIDS where the localculture opposes the new prevention strategies provided to them. Theyargue that epidemiologists should involve respected socialinstitutions in the society to facilitate the programs directedtoward reducing infection rate in Africa.
Airhihenbuwa,C. O., Ford, C. L., & Iwelunmor, J. I. (2014). Why culturematters in health interventions: lessons from HIV/AIDS stigma andNCDs. HealthEducation & Behavior, 41(1),78-84.
Barnett,T. (2006). A long‐waveevent. HIV/AIDS, politics, governance and ‘security’: sunderingthe intergenerational bond?. InternationalAffairs, 82(2),297-313
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