Today, we often hear about the AIDS epidemic and how it’s ravaging Africa the most. Conjoined with news of the HIV/AIDS epidemic is news about all sorts of movements and campaigns to help fight the epidemic- The RED Campaign, research projects, PEPFAR, NGO’s carrying out missions on the ground…the list goes on.
However, typically, most of these efforts are reactive, seeking to deal with the epidemic of HIV/AIDS after seeing its devastating effects take toll in the lives of human beings. After much rallying and advocacy, we end up spending the most time trying to find cures or providing forms of support, such as treatment and childcare for those already ridden with HIV/AIDS.
When we fail to become proactive, the reactive approach bypasses the fact that these supportive infrastructures are finite and can be exhausted with time. Thus, much of the challenge today is replace a dwindling workforce and seemingly more critical, the healthcare workforce.
The healthcare workforce is at a high risk for contracting HIV/AIDS, a risk that becomes even higher with a decreasing workforce. This results in decreasing productivity, and finally decreasing GDP which weakens hospitals’ capabilities to provide optimal care, due to lack of government funding. And so at this point healthcare staff are put at the most danger of contracting the virus, a danger that once succumbed to would force them into the downwardly spiraling loss of workforce.
But there is hope! We can establish proactive measures. This means gearing more of our efforts towards preventative approaches like education on safe sex and gender equality. Furthermore we can begin to address bigger, more overarching issues of poverty that make African people vulnerable to HIV/AIDS. Therefore, giving people the tools to become more actively involved in determining their future disease status is where our best bets lie.
It’s been decades since we’ve been trying to find a cure. We’ve made progress, but treatment is not a viable option for those who need it most. When we are faced with such ill fated fortunes, I say circumvent the problem. I say answer the question of ensuring no one ever gets infected to begin with.
Research shows that preventing HIV/AIDS infection requires that we begin education as early as possible, meaning with the youngest group of people capable of learning- children. This is a controversial issue, but when circumstances demand it (areas in which HIV/AIDS prevalence is as high as 30%, 1 in 3), we must rise to the challenge in an age and culturally appropriate way.
The views in this article are representative of solely the author’s and may or may not represent those of SCOUT BANANA.