HIV AND AIDS IN MOZAMBIQUE
HIV / AIDS
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a variant virus of HTLV-1 (Human T cell Leukemia-Lymphoma Virus 1) and is the causative agent of AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome).
AIDS first surfaced in June 1981 as result of reports from the Los Angeles area, to the Centre of Disease Control, of a type of pneumonia caused by a fungus in homosexual males.
The virus causing this disease was isolated by a group of French and American scientists in 1983.
HIV & AIDS INFORMATION
The virus makes contact with a host cell, enters it and goes through a process of replication which damages and eventually kills the host cell. The infection begins when the virus binds to a protein receptor called CD4 receptor on the surface of helper T cells. Helper T cells are the cells which combat infections and diseases entering our bodies by combining with B cells to amplify antibody production. Through a very complicated process helper T cells are killed and as the process progresses there is a decline in immune functioning.
The disease is spread via body fluids contaminated with the virus.
The most common forms of transmission are;
Two species of HIV infect humans: HIV-1 and HIV-2.
Both HIV-1 and HIV-2 are of primate origin.
At this present time there are no safe drugs or vaccines to prevent the spread of AIDS.
The stigma and secrecy surrounding the virus contributes to the rising HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in Mozambique. It is estimated that 16.2 percent of the population aged 15-49 years old is HIV-positive.
The majority of children living with HIV have been infected by their mothers during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding. Most of them have not had to face the psychological trauma of living with the virus because they died within the first two years of life.
Given the fact that there is no vaccine or cure for HIV or AIDS at present, the only methods of prevention are based on avoiding exposure to the virus.
If after a high risk encounter an anti-retroviral treatment called post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is undertaken.
Africa is the hardest hit by this disease and poverty and ignorance are major factors contributing to the spread of the virus. Poverty and unemployment leads to people with nothing to do and so promiscuity increases. This promotes a drift to urban centres looking for employment and as the individual’s circumstances get more desperate so prostitution becomes more widespread. Cultural beliefs and customs and a lack of understanding of the dangers of unprotected sex through ignorance leads to the disease being spread more rapidly. The fact that the disease can lie dormant with no outward symptoms showing, belies the urgency of a radical change of attitude towards multiple sex partners and unprotected sex.
Although governments are embarking on campaigns to educate their people, it is very late in the day and more people than is fully realised are already HIV positive and sexually active and therefore still spreading the virus.
Given the misinformation on AIDS there are numerous cultural beliefs spread by superstition and so called “Traditional Healers”, for instance, that sex with a virgin will cure the virus. This has led to children being raped at as young as eight months old. There is a culture of “Non-Accountability” being propagated in some African countries at this time and with no deterrent effects in recourse to law and justice, it would seem that this type of abhorrent crime against children is here to stay for the time being. This also leads to the inability to contain the disease because of ignorance.
Medical science at the moment is mounting what must be the greatest concentrated effort ever, to find a cure for a single- virus disease.
If this spread of this disease is not stopped then Africa is in danger of losing a whole generation of workers because the children will not live long enough. This impact is already being felt by various chain store groups catering mainly to black buyers. There have been an increasing number of articles in financial publications telling of chain store groups scaling down or closing branches because of the collapse of their customer bases. The financial implications of this can be disastrous to business as well as to agriculture and food production with no market or a dwindling market base.
Malaria makes HIV more infectious.
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