AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia
“We all deserve a quality life with HIV and without it,” declared Russian activist Maria Godlevskaya at the International AIDS Conference. Godlevskaya is a loving mother and dedicated peer counselor who has been living with HIV for 18 years. Advances in the prevention and treatment of HIV mean that the number of new HIV infections is decreasing globally. Only two regions lag behind; in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, new cases of HIV are on the rise.

The State of the AIDS Crisis

To combat the global epidemic, UNAIDS has issued “90-90-90 targets” to be reached globally by 2020. The goal is that of all of the people living with HIV, 90 percent should be aware of their status. Of these people, 90 percent should receive treatment. And of those receiving treatment, 90 percent should achieve viral suppression.

Eastern Europe and Central Asia are currently the furthest from reaching this goal. In these regions, 73 percent of people infected with HIV are aware of their status, 36 percent of those people are receiving treatment and 26 percent have achieved viral suppression.

There is no indication that the epidemic of HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia has even reached its peak. There is, however, hope. By understanding the key populations affected by the epidemic and funding prevention, testing and treatment methods, transmission can be slowed and even stopped altogether.

Advances Against AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

Currently, only about three percent of HIV/AIDS funding in the region is targeted toward key vulnerable populations, including men who have sex with men, transgender people, sex workers, and people who use intravenous drugs. The stigma against these populations often makes them invisible to the government and to the healthcare system.

About one-third of new HIV infections in Eastern Europe and Central Asia are in people who use intravenous drugs. Fortunately, strategies to reduce the risk of spreading the disease have been helping. Needle-syringe programs are an example of effective harm reduction strategies. They distribute free, sterile needles to drug users.

Additionally, opioid substitution therapy allows drug users to stay away from needle use. The therapy provides methadone, which is taken orally and eases drug withdrawal symptoms. Belarus, Kazakhstan, the Republic of Moldova, and Ukraine have significantly ramped up such harm-reduction programs; as a result, they have seen a decrease in HIV infections among people using intravenous drugs.

Mother-to-child transmission of HIV  has accounted for only one percent of all incidences in 2017. In 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that mother-to-child transmission was stopped altogether in Armenia and Belarus.

In the fight against AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Saint Petersburg has become a model city. As a result of increased funding for prevention initiatives and harm-reduction programs for drug users, the number of new HIV infections has decreased. On a national level, however, the Russian Federation has neglected to fund effective prevention and treatment services.

Grassroots Nonprofits Helping Their Communities

When the government turns a blind eye, ordinary people step up. Maria Godlevskaya founded E.V.A, a nonprofit that advocates for women affected by HIV. From providing peer counseling to helping women communicate with medical officials, E.V.A gives marginalized women hope. The organization is about building bridges from woman to woman and from this network of women to their government.

The fight against HIV/AIDS knows no gender, no race and no age. Adolescents are coming together to fight HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Across the region, 80 adolescents are part of a nonprofit called Teenergizer. They visit local HIV clinics and record any roadblocks to testing they experience. The teenagers then use this information to create an interactive map of testing and treatment facilities for other youth in their region. Teenergizer reduces stigma and empowers youth to take their health into their own hands: as a result of the initiative, nearly two thousand adolescents from Eastern Europe and Central Asia have been tested for HIV.

The crisis of AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia has been bleak, and the future is uncertain. But, the leadership of several countries, nonprofit organizations and dedicated citizens has the potential to crush social stigmas and the associated legislative obstacles to funding prevention and treatment. Armen Agadjanov of Teenergizer affirms that a brighter future is on the horizon. “I’m convinced that the future is in the hands of adolescents—they are the people who will change and build a new world.”

– Ivana Bozic
Photo: Flickr

UNAIDS: Efforts to End HIV/AIDS in East and Southern Africa
UNAIDS is the international movement working to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic worldwide by 2030, which aligns with the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals. Its fight against HIV/AIDS in East and Southern Africa has seen encouraging results.

In 2016, UNAIDS created the 90-90-90 targets for 2020, aiming to have 90 percent of all people with HIV know they are HIV positive, 90 percent of those who know their status receive antiretroviral therapy (ART) consistently and 90 percent of those receiving treatment show viral suppression (having no symptoms of HIV/AIDS).

HIV/AIDS in East and Southern Africa a Main Target of UNAIDS

East and Southern Africa is the region of the world most impacted by HIV/AIDS. UNAIDS estimates that 19.4 million people in that region have HIV/AIDS. However, since the creation of the 90-90-90 targets and the subsequent implementation of more rigorous prevention and treatment programs, tremendous progress has been made towards curbing the transmission of and deaths from HIV/AIDS.

These statistics show how East and Southern Africa are faring in each of the 90-90-90 categories:

  1. Knowing Status
    According to a UNAIDS Special Analysis from 2017, in 2016, 14.7 million of an estimated 19.4 million people with HIV/AIDS in East and Southern Africa knew their status. That is 76 percent, up from 72 percent the previous year.
  2. Receiving Antiretroviral Therapy
    Seven million people with HIV/AIDS in East and Southern Africa are on ART. This means that 60 percent of all people with HIV (up from 53 percent in 2015)—or 79 percent of those who know their status—are receiving treatment.
  3. Showing Viral Suppression
    Seven million people on ART in this region show suppressed viral loads. Thus, 50 percent of people with HIV in East and Southern Africa (up from 45 percent in 2015)—which is equivalent to 83 percent of those receiving ART—show viral suppression.

Both the infection rate and death rate from HIV/AIDS are improving. Infection rates peaked between 1995 and 1998, when UNAIDS estimates that 1.7 million people in East and Southern Africa were newly infected each year. The decline began in 1990 and has continued. In 2016, UNAIDS estimated that 790,000 people contracted HIV/AIDS, down from 850,000 a year before.

Deaths from HIV/AIDS in East and Southern Africa peaked about a decade later than infection rates did, with approximately one million people dying annually between 2004 and 2006. In 2010, 720,000 people died from HIV/AIDS. By 2016, that number had dropped by nearly 50 percent to 420,000 deaths. As UNAIDS notes, it is extraordinary to see a death rate cut nearly in half in just six years.

Much of this recent success must be attributed to the work of UNAIDS, which is working to make testing and treatment of HIV/AIDS available to everyone. Its programs specifically target young women, pregnant mothers-to-be and males who, because of the stigma around HIV/AIDS, are often the least likely to receive proper treatment.

Multi-Pronged Efforts Reach Most Vulnerable Populations

Efforts aimed at young females including getting comprehensive sex education into all primary and secondary schools in East and Southern Africa, encouraging girls to stay in school (and away from dangerous sex work), and providing easily accessible female and reproductive healthcare.

UNAIDS is also helping to equip maternity clinics with what they need to ensure that all pregnant women will be aware of their HIV status and are able to get the care they need to have a healthy pregnancy.

Along with working to end the stigma around HIV/AIDS and providing accessible places to receive testing and treatment, UNAIDS aims to distribute 30 male condoms to every man living in the region each year. It also offers voluntary male circumcision programs, which can help prevent female to male HIV transmission.

East and Southern Africa may be the region most affected by HIV/AIDS, but UNAIDS is doing tremendous work towards achieving its 90-90-90 goals by 2020 and its goal of ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic by 2030. Continuing to spread awareness about HIV/AIDS and making testing and treatment increasingly available will ensure that these successes continue.

– Abigail Dunn
Photo: Flickr

effects of poverty
Poverty stretches across the globe affecting almost half of the world’s population. Its effects reach deeper. Uniquely connected to different causes, the effects of poverty are revolving—one result leads to another source leads to another consequence. To fully understand the effects of poverty, the causes have to be rooted out to develop strategies to end hunger and starvation for good. Let’s discuss some of the top effects of poverty.

Poor Health

Globally, millions suffer from poverty-related health conditions as infectious diseases ravage the lives of an estimated 14 million people a year and are of the top effects of poverty. These diseases are contracted through sources like contaminated water, the absence of water and sanitation, and lack of access to proper healthcare. The list is broad and long. Here are the top diseases commonly linked to poverty.

  • Malaria: Malaria is urbanely referred to as the poor man’s disease, as more than a million people living in poverty die from it each year. Caused by a parasite, malaria is contracted through mosquito bites. Most prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa, malaria affects the lives of many in 97 countries worldwide.
  • Tuberculosis: Often referred to as TB, tuberculosis is a bacteria-borne disease. The bacterium, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, targets the lungs. It also affects the kidneys, brain, and spine. When discussing the effects of TB worldwide, it must be broken down by burden—high burden TB and low burden TB—all of which has to do with the number of cases that impact a country. High burden TB affects more than 22 countries, as low burden TB accounts for 10 cases per 100,000 people in a geographical location.
  • HIV/AIDS: HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. This infection attacks the immune system and is contracted by contact with certain fluids in the body. If HIV is left untreated, certain infections and diseases can take over the body and cause a person to develop AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency syndrome). Thirty-six million people in the world have HIV/AIDS. In countries like Zambia and Zimbabwe, one in five adults live with HIV or AIDS.

Continuing the fight against poverty through economic expansion will help eliminate poverty-related illnesses and raise the value of health in poor communities.

Crime

There’s an old adage that says, “If a man don’t work, he don’t eat.” That’s not the case for a large number people living in poverty. Lack of economic opportunity leads to impoverishment which then leads to crime.

Global unemployment is at a high point. One hundred ninety-two million people around the world are jobless. In some parts of the world, mainly poor parts, unemployment standings will drive this number higher. In a study done on youth in the Caribbean, it was determined that joblessness fueled criminal activity in those aged 15 through 24.

Because of the struggles in the Caribbean job market, the murder rates are higher there than in any other region in the world. The crime rate affects 6.8 percent of the Caribbean population against the world average of 4.5 percent, calculating the global rate per 100,000 people.

People who live below the poverty line and don’t have access to sufficient economic opportunity, live by any dangerous means necessary.

Lack of Education

There is a direct correlation between low academic performance and poverty. Children who are exposed to extreme levels of poverty have difficulty with cognitive development, speech, and managing stress, which leads to adverse behavior.

In the country of Niger—the most illiterate nation in the world—only 15 percent of adults have the ability to read and write. Eritrea follows on the heels of Niger: with a population of 6 million, the average person only achieves four years of school.

In these poor locations, young adults and children have to leave school to work to help provide additional income for their families. Other children don’t have access to education due to decent schools being too far for them to travel to. On the other hand, schools nearby don’t have enough materials and resources to properly educate children. The conditions of the schools are just as poor as the children’s living conditions.

Where there’s poverty, there’s lack of education, joblessness, and poor health. The key to destroying the top effects of poverty is to attack the causes. More funding is needed for programs such as Child Fund International—a program that brings resources to children in poor communities. The International Economic Development Council supports economic developers by helping them create, retain, and expand jobs in their communities. And then there are the international efforts of the World Health Organization that fights to bring vaccinations and health-related resources to impoverished communities suffering from the infectious diseases of poverty. With these efforts along with other strategies, we can continue making strides to end the effects of poverty. 

– Naomi C. Kellogg 

 

ATM pharmacies in South Africa Cut Wait Times for Chronically Ill Patients
The suburb of Alexandra, South Africa, is now home to Africa’s first pharmacy dispensing unit. ATM pharmacies in South Africa are expected to have a profound effect on the wait time for patients and the efficiency of clinics.

Simple Solution to Improve Lives

The machine operates as seamlessly as an ATM that dispenses money and completes the transaction in as little as three minutes as opposed to hours. Also known as an “ATM pharmacy,” the unit comes as a convenience to citizens with chronic illnesses, while freeing up space in local clinics. Most importantly, people dependent on medication have another option in receiving repeat medication that does not compromise safety or effectiveness.

The new development comes from experts from nonprofit Right to Care, Right ePharmacy and the Gauteng Department of Health. Right to Care works to provide prevention, care and treatment for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases as well as tuberculosis and cervical cancer.

Developers chose Alexandra as the first location because of its large population, burdened facilities, and level of need, Right ePharmacy managing director Fanie Hendriksz said.

The Need for ATM Pharmacies in South Africa

Innovations like ATM pharmacies in South Africa are a step toward higher-quality healthcare, making it easier for patients to be consistent with their medication schedules. One of the main target groups for this project was people with HIV in need of repeat antiretroviral medicine, as South Africa now has the world’s largest AIDS treatment program.

In addition to being overcrowded, some clinics are also understaffed. Nurses may be referred to other clinics to compensate for lack of staff. HIV/AIDS activist Bhekisisa Mazibuko broke into Kgabo clinic pharmacy to make a point about the outlandish wait times for chronic medications in Tshwane, a city not far from Johannesburg. Some patients start waiting in line as early as 3 a.m.

Mazibuko, who lives with HIV, used a brick to break the pharmacy door after it closed for the day at 4 p.m., not attending to patients who had been waiting for hours. He distributed medicine to hypertension, diabetes and HIV patients before being arrested.

A Way Forward

Patients whose conditions are stabilized are encouraged to use the pharmacy dispensing unit (PDU), although a referral from a doctor is necessary. The patient engages in a simple process of scanning their personal ID and entering a pin and speaking with a pharmacist via video correspondence.

Through this video chat, patients can be advised and directed on how to take the medication and its possible side effects. The patient then selects their medication which is robotically dispensed along with a receipt. The PDU has served more than 4,000 people and dispensed 18,000 prescription medications so far.

According to Right to Care chief executive Ian Sanne, the amount of time South Africans spend waiting in line at health facilities is quite extensive and is damaging to economic productivity. ATM pharmacies in South Africa is likely just the beginning of many healthcare innovations in Africa.

– Camille Wilson
Photo: Flickr

financing for hiv/aids
On April 18, 2018, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) partnered with the Kaiser Family Foundation to host a discussion of the current state and future of financing for HIV/AIDS. The Borgen Project was invited to attend this critical summit and hear from the leading voices in this space.

About 36.7 million people worldwide were diagnosed with HIV/AIDS by the end of 2016; one million of those cases resulted in fatality. A disease that still affects so many requires adequate funding for care, treatment and prevention.

The fight against AIDS began in 1981 when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report which detailed one of the first cases of the disease. From there, the CDC began to work on discovering risk factors.

Between 1996 and 2000, spending on HIV/AIDS from major donor countries increased from $248.45 million to $749.37 million. According to Christopher J.L. Murray, one of the panelists and a professor at the University of Washington, “If you cumulate total spend since 2000, the world has spent just around half a trillion dollars on HIV/AIDS.”

The amount of financing for HIV/AIDS continuously increased through the years up until 2011. Murray pointed out current spending trends using a graph. “From basically 2011, with the exception of 2012, we have been flat,” meaning that total spending from donor assistance channels, such as the WHO and World Bank, has not increased since 2011. Though some individual channels may have increased financing for treatment and prevention, others have decreased spending, making total spending fairly consistent in recent years.

Another concern for financing for HIV/AIDS is the limited spending coming from countries with the highest numbers of affected people. The majority of financing is coming from the upper and upper-middle income countries. J. Stephen Morrison, the Senior Vice President and Director of the Global Health Policy Center, pointed out some of the most striking realizations that have come from new data on HIV/AIDS.

“It also begins to show us a way in which there has been an erosion of the financial and political commitment dedicated to those low-income countries with the greatest burden and the greatest prevalence,” Morrison noted. “The most dramatic point was in saying that since 2012, 2013, a 23.7 percent decline in the levels of donor assistance into those countries from just over 12 billion to 9.1 billion dedicated to HIV.”

The stagnant spending is a severe problem considering the rate of population growth. Mark Dybul, one of the panelists and a professor at Georgetown University, pointed out the hypothetical: “You double the population, you’re going to double the size of the infection rate.” A Business Insider estimation claims that more than half of the population growth that will occur between now and 2050 is going to occur in Africa. As Africa is also the site of the highest number of HIV/AIDS cases, this means that the rate of those infected with HIV/AIDS will likely increase significantly.

The future of financing for HIV/AIDS is looking challenging to Dybul given the difficulties in raising funds. “The reality is, there is no argument that’s going to get an increase in donor funding for HIV. We are at the highwater mark, we are not going up.” Dybul suggested that, instead, change will come through smarter investing, including focusing on prevention first, and treatment second.

Additionally, Dybul suggested that some change is needed in how we talk about the epidemic. As he pointed out “Young people in Africa don’t think about HIV anymore, they think about other things.” In this way, raising awareness may be crucial in fighting HIV/AIDS.

Moving forward with financing for HIV/AIDS will be a challenge considering stagnant spending across the board, little spending from low-income countries, and the drastic population growth expected in Africa in the coming years. But with changes in how organizations and governments invest and heightened awareness of the epidemic, it is possible to win the war against HIV/AIDS.

– Olivia Booth

Photo: CSIS

the Biggest Global Issues

What are the biggest global issues that the world is facing right now? All around the world, countries are facing new issues every single day on their own, but despite its borders, the world is constantly facing issues as a whole. What are the biggest global issues that the world is facing together? There are many that affect everybody and require attention from not just one country, but every country.

One of the top global issues today is the continent of Africa. Africa needs support both economically and socially in order to develop and protect human rights, as well as build solid governments and better the lives of the people living there. African countries also need support to promote democratic institutions in order for there to be peace among the nations.

AIDS is another top global issue in the world today. Although new HIV infections have decreased significantly, the global response to HIV/AIDS has to continue to be powerful in order to wipe out the epidemic completely.

The rights of children are another top global issue throughout many different countries. Millions of children do not have access to education, health or protection. Every country should be expanding the opportunities for children and allowing them to exercise the rights that all humans should be allowed.

Climate change is a significant issue that shifts weather patterns. This causes a threat to food production, rising sea levels and many more negative impacts on nature. Climate change is a global issue that directly affects not only humans throughout the world, but animals and the ecosystem itself.

Food insecurity is one of the biggest global issues the world is facing right now. About 795 million people in the world were malnourished between 2014 and 2016. Hunger is known to be the number one risk to human health worldwide, even greater than disease.

Another global issue is inadequate access to clean water and the lack of sanitation and hygiene that goes along with it. This is typically due to bad economics and infrastructure, and often leads to deaths, especially in children, caused by diseases that are spread by unsanitary water.

There are many more problems that the world is facing today, but these are the biggest global issues that the world needs to address now. Some of the issues listed affect not only the human race but animals and nature as well. From diseases to government, the world is facing global issues together every day.

– Chloe Turner

Photo: Flickr

Working to End the AIDS EpidemicAcquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is the result of an advanced human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection which destroys the body’s immune system. AIDS affects millions of people around the globe. Inadequate medical knowledge leads to a delay in the early treatment of HIV patients.

Since the early 1980s, when AIDS was first clinically recognized, it has claimed nearly 39 million lives worldwide. This has necessitated a global effort to find a cure for this mass epidemic. PEPFAR, The Global Fund and UNAIDS are some of the largest organizations who are working to end the AIDS epidemic by the year 2030.

Poor education is one of the leading contributors to the spread of the AIDS epidemic, since many people suffering from AIDS do not have the necessary knowledge to recognize early signs of the disease and be treated appropriately.

So that AIDS may hopefully be eradicated by the year 2030, UNAIDS has created a program called “90-90-90: treatment for all”. This program ensures that 90 percent of people affected by AIDS will know their medical status and will therefore be able to receive antiretroviral therapy.

Currently, there is no effective AIDS vaccination. However, a combination of antiretroviral therapies administered early in the disease blocks the HIV virus from multiplying in the bloodstream, preventing the development of clinical AIDS.

Before PEPFAR, another organization working to end the AIDS epidemic, only 50,000 people in Africa were being treated with antiretroviral therapy. Now with the help of PEPFAR, over 13.3 million people are being treated globally. Due to these preventative measures, HIV prevalence rates and new HIV infections are on the decline.

To end the AIDS epidemic, countries suffering from high incidences of HIV require more healthcare workers to provide safe communities and treatment for all. Accordingly, The Global Fund invests nearly $4 billion every year in the mobilization of healthcare workers.

UNAIDS has gathered the world’s largest data collection on HIV epidemiology, the best treatment methods, program coverage and finance that is vitally important in order to end the AIDS epidemic.

UNAIDS data enables this organization, as well as others, to accomplish the goals set at the General Assembly of the 2016 United Nations Political Declaration on Ending AIDS. By following this track, these organizations will hopefully eradicate AIDS by the year 2030.

Ending the AIDS epidemic, while saving millions of lives, can serve as a model for revolutionizing worldwide health in other ways. It can motivate other organizations to promote more global health and development efforts, demonstrating that much can be achieved through global unity and evidence-based action.

Too many people worldwide are still affected by HIV and AIDS. Thanks to the work done by organizations such as PEPFAR, The Global Fund and UNAIDS, the goal of ending the AIDS epidemic by the year 2030 is becoming more of a reality each and every day.

– Adrienne Tauscheck

Photo: Flickr

The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) was created in 2003 as a cornerstone of the global HIV/AIDS response. In the 14 years since its inception, PEPFAR has helped 13 million people receive counseling and antiretroviral therapy.

PEPFAR has gone through multiple iterations and been managed by three U.S. presidents. The program is currently managed by the Trump administration, which, on December 1, launched the PEPFAR Strategy for Accelerating HIV/AIDS Epidemic Control.

PEPFAR’s accelerated strategy includes putting a focus on 13 countries with an exceptional HIV/AIDS burden. The countries, Kenya, Zambia, Côte d’Ivoire, the United Republic of Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Lesotho, Botswana, Namibia, Swaziland, Haiti and Rwanda, will be receiving widespread and much-needed antiretroviral therapy coverage. The strategy also includes a strong focus on young girls and women with HIV and AIDS.

The ultimate goal of PEPFAR’s accelerated strategy is to gain control of the epidemic in these 13 countries by the year 2020. Though the prospective outcome is bright, this change could bring about more issues than anticipated.

In May, President Trump announced his plan to restructure the federal budget. Approximately 19 percent of the HIV/AIDS global care and prevention budget is proposed to be cut in 2018. Prior to PEPFAR’s accelerated strategy, the program was providing assistance to 50 countries around the world. The plan is to continue providing assistance to those countries while also providing extra provisions to the 13 focus countries.

While it is important, of course, to increase assistance where the burden is heavier, it is also important that other vulnerable communities aren’t left behind. With a lowered budget and the focus of PEPFAR being shifted, worldwide HIV/AIDS prevention and recovery programs are at risk.

Important programs like safe needle exchange, counseling for sex workers and homosexual men and care for children living with HIV and AIDS could potentially lose funding. Without these and other programs, there’s a high chance that infection rates will increase rather than decrease.

The general notion of the focus shift is a positive one. By gaining epidemic control in the focus countries, PEPFAR would be creating a roadmap for further epidemic control and prevention in other countries.

However, in order to gain epidemic control, infection rates need to be lower. Before making an attempt at an AIDS-free generation, PEPFAR needs to focus on providing prevention as well as treatment to all affected communities.

– Anna Sheps

Photo: Flickr

With a new campaign called My Health, My Right, UNAIDS will celebrate World AIDS Day on December 1, 2017. The campaign aims to bring awareness to the universal right to health, and also to shed light on the hardships people face globally in obtaining these rights.

My Health, My Right is meant to remind people that a human’s right to health is not only about accessing the necessary services and medicines, but also about quality living and working conditions that are sanitary and safe with access to basic needs. When these rights are not being met, preventative measures against disease decrease and illnesses increase, including HIV. This campaign allows for open conversation to begin regarding thoughts and concerns about rights to health, the importance of health equality and justice for people worldwide.

The campaign will occur mostly on twitter, with downloadable posters available to hang throughout communities and informational brochures equipped with messages about the rights to proper health care. The right to health for all people is crucial in the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals, as one of the goals includes ending the AIDS epidemic by the year 2030.

As of August 2017, 36.7 million people are living with HIV/AIDS throughout the world. 30 percent of these people don’t know the status of their disease. The majority of those infected with AIDS live in low- and middle-income countries; 25.5 million of these people live in sub-Saharan Africa. Although there has been significant progress in ending the AIDS epidemic, experts say it is not being done fast enough to meet the global targets.

World AIDS Day aims to pay respects to those who have died from an AIDS-related illness. The day was originally founded in 1988, as the first-ever global health day. A day to recognize the virus is extremely important for the eradication of the disease, as many of those infected do not know how to protect themselves and the others around them. It also helps demolish the discrimination and stigma associated with people living with the condition. AIDS has not disappeared, and there is a crucial need for funds, resources, increased awareness and improved education regarding the disease.

– Chloe Turner

Photo: Flickr

Life Expectancy in AfricaLife expectancy is one of the methods used to measure health in various countries. Countries with low life expectancies usually have problems maintaining health and longevity, while countries with higher life expectancies generally have better healthcare and longevity. Africa is a continent that has long had a very low life expectancy; however, in recent years the life expectancy in Africa has fortunately been on the rise.

Since 2000, the average life expectancy in African countries has increased from 20 percent to 42 percent. That is the biggest increase in  life expectancy recorded in that time frame in all regions around the world. One of the biggest life expectancy increases has occurred in Malawi. Malawi’s life expectancy in 2000 was 44.1 years. In 2014, it was reported that the new life expectancy in Malawi was 62.7 years – a 42.2 percent increase.

Health and welfare improvements are one of the main reasons why life expectancy in Africa has been on the rise. One of the biggest health issues that Africa has been plagued with is the HIV/AIDS epidemic. HIV/AIDS has tragically claimed many lives in Africa, which is a large reason why life expectancy was so low. Treating these diseases was difficult at height of the epidemic, so many Africans unfortunately died. Because HIV/AIDS has been such a huge issue, there has been a lot of research done to help alleviate the problem. Improvements in medication and treatment have helped Africans and others around the world combat the AIDS epidemic. Not only is there now medicine available to help suppress the disease, but this medicine has become much more affordable for all people, including those in developing countries.

Although an epidemic, HIV/AIDS was not the only problem that African countries suffered from. Malaria was also an issue that affected life expectancy in Africa. However, strides have since been made to alleviate that issue as well. The World Health Organization (WHO) in Africa has reported that the rate of malaria has decreased by 66 percent since the year 2000. More importantly, malaria in African children under the age of five has decreased by 71 percent. This is important because more children are surviving in Africa. Prior to these improvements, HIV/AIDS and malaria have claimed many lives of children under the age of five. Since healthcare – and access to it – has increased in Africa, more children are surviving past age five. Once these kids clear the first five years of their lives, it is much more likely that they will grow up to reach the age of 60.

Life expectancy in Africa has increased and things are only looking to get better. Not only has the life expectancy dramatically increased, it is beginning to look like malaria may be eliminated by 2020 and HIV/AIDS by 2030. This will surely serve to further increase the life expectancy of African countries, as well as elsewhere around the world.

Daniel Borjas

Photo: Flickr