Countries in Asia, the Caribbean, and other regions are hard hit, but Africa is suffering the highest rates on infection. The simple reason is this: poverty and many of the social problems that come with poverty. Contributing factors include: low levels of education, weak health systems, corruption, and too little respect for human rights and democracy.
The roots of the crisis are deep. Colonization by wealthy European countries left a terrible legacy of dependency and social conflict. Even after the end of colonialism, superpowers like the United States and the Soviet Union supported undemocratic regimes that let social problems fester. Over the decades, ill-considered economic development plans contributed to family breakdown and social dislocation. Outside advice about how to end poverty, from creditors like the World Bank and others, often proved faulty and helped lead to the continent’s enormous indebtedness. Today, wealthy countries continue to support trade laws that help keep AIDS medications out of reach.
By the time of the advent of the HIV virus, all of these factors had combined to create a perfect environment for it to grow and multiply. But, we have to remember: despite all the factors listed above AIDS is being effectively dealt in parts of Africa. And, African political and social leaders are now committing themselves to addressing the crisis in a frank and honest way. Africans are ready to tackle AIDS, if they have the tools they need.
That’s why we have to demand that the US government, together with numerous other nations, do its fair share to help provide those tools, so we can expand already proven, successful programs of prevention, care and treatment.