How does it affect countries?
AIDS is very bad for a country because it kills off a country’s population - doctors, mothers, farmers, teachers, police officers, and community leaders – and family income drops when adults die.
It affects everybody because adults are responsible for caring and providing for children and elderly people but when they die, children and the elderly are forced to look after themselves. This might mean that children drop out of school so they can work, or they might need to stay at home to care for sick relatives.
It is frightening for a country when HIV/AIDS affects so many young people – more than a third of all people living with HIV/AIDS are under the age of 25. This means that young people can’t be relied on to become the workers and carers of the future.
Countries affected the worst by HIV/AIDS are in Sub-Saharan Africa, where three-quarters of the world’s AIDS sufferers live.
What about HIV/AIDS in New Zealand?HIV/AIDS isn’t seen to be a big problem in New Zealand but it can become one if people ignore it and do not protect themselves. In New Zealand people are generally aware of the virus and know how to protect themselves. As long as they put this into practice – such as using condoms, not sharing needles and taking all other precautions – the number of new HIV/AIDS sufferers will continue to be low in New Zealand.
Some factsAIDS Epidemiology Group figures showed that in 2008 there were 184 people diagnosed in New Zealand with HIV, the highest recorded number of new infections in a single year. This includes 4 children who got the virus from their mothers before, during or after birth. Of these, 3 were infected overseas, 1 in New Zealand.
Statistics from the Ministry of Health website – www.moh.govt.nz/aids.html
Why is HIV/AIDS more common in some countries than others?In some countries it is okay for men to have several partners even if they are married, especially when they are away from home. This might be because women are not treated equally as men, especially when they depend on them for money and food, so men do what they want. When men have more partners they are at more risk of getting HIV/AIDS if they do not use condoms during sex. They then pass the virus on to their wives who can pass it on to children they might have in the future.
Women also can have multiple partners which leads to an increased risked of contracting HIV and AIDS. There are also many women who use prostitution to earn money and don't protect themselves properly leading to infection. This is more common when there is a lot of poverty in a country, or during a war.
War is a time when HIV nad AIDS can spread quickly for a number of reasons. Men and women are separated so women are less protected, leading to more violence against them. War also means that there is even less chance to teach people about how to protect themselves from HIV and AIDS even though it is a particularly important time for people to know, especially because many end up in crowded refugee camps. Also, more blood transfusions take place during war because of so many injuries. This is how 5-10% of the world’s HIV and AIDS sufferers got the virus.
Some children find themselves in situations where they might be tempted to take drugs to escape from their problems. This also increases the risk of getting HIV and AIDS if they share needles.
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