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A General Introduction to HIV/AIDS

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The majority of these are in Africa where some countries such as Uganda have been decimated by AIDS. Some estimate that a majority of the Ugandan population is HIV-positive (WHO, 2007) and it is not the only country in Africa with this situation. There are several factors that have led to the spread of AIDS in Africa. First is the unwillingness of many men to wear condoms, together with ignorance about what causes the spread of AIDS and how to avoid it. Secondly, a lack of testing facilities means that HIV and even full-blown AIDS went undiagnosed for many years. Third, the medical systems in the countries involved are very poor, often having only a few dollars per capita to spend on total health care.

The care of just one Person With Aids (PWA) costs several hundred dollars a year.There is currently an explosion of AIDS in India, China and in the former Soviet countries in Eastern Europe (WHO, 2007). AIDS exists in virtually every country in the world. Moving to America, the CDC estimates that at the end of 2003 (the last year for which full figures are currently available) “an estimated 1,039,000 to 1,185,000 persons in the United States were living with HIV/AIDS, with 24-27% undiagnosed and unaware of their HIV infection” (cdc, 2007). An average of about 42,000 new cases a year has occurred for the last few years (cdc, 2007). A majority of both new and cumulative cases are, not surprisingly, to be found within the sexually active ages of 20-50 (cdc, 2007).More than 40% of AIDS cases occur from male-to-male anal contact, both new and cumulative. There is an interesting racial disparity as well. While African-Americans make up about 12% of the population they make up nearly 38% of all AIDS cases and over 50% of new AIDS cases (cdc, 2007). This change from AIDS being a “white, gay, male” disease has occurred for a number of reasons. First of all, the prevention programs that started to be developed in the mid-1980s and have been in existence ever since have worked in educating the groups that were originally most susceptible to AIDS: educated, middle-class gay men.

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