Education | Why You Should Care
Every day, close to 15,000 people are infected with HIV.
HIV/AIDS Around the World
The HIV/AIDS pandemic poses an incredible health threat to the men, women and children that live in developing countries around the globe. There
are more than 40 million people worldwide who live with HIV. An astounding 90% of them live in developing countries.
- Last year, 5.8 million new HIV infections were estimated to have occurred around the globe.
- The large majority of HIV-positive people in developing countries an estimated 90% are not even aware of their HIV status.
While undoubtedly the health of a country is inextricably linked to the wealth of a country, a myriad of factors contribute
to the high numbers HIV infections, reported AIDS cases and AIDS-related deaths in the developing world, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa
and South Asia.
Factors Contributing to the Prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the Developing World
The antiretroviral drugs that have significantly contributed to the decrease in both reported AIDS cases and AIDS-related
deaths in the United States (commonly called "drug cocktails") are extremely expensive roughly US $10,000 per case each year. The price
of these medications far exceeds the financial resources available in developing countries, making the "drug cocktails" largely unavailable
to those most affected by HIV.
Every day, 1,600 children under the age of 15 worldwide are infected with HIV. Last year, 590,000 children were infected
with HIV, the majority of whom were exposed to the virus by their mother. The absence of antiretroviral drugs in many developing countries
significantly contributes to the prevalence of HIV in children born to women with HIV. If tidovudine (commonly called AZT) was available to
HIV-positive pregnant women in developing countries during pregnancy, labor and delivery, and to their newborns for the first six weeks after
birth, the risk of mother-to-child HIV transmission (also called vertical transmission) would be reduced by as much as two thirds.
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), particularly those that remain untreated, put an individual at increased risk for
HIV and facilitate the sexual transmission of HIV. Worldwide, people infected with an STD are five to 10 times more likely to become infected
Often in developing countries, STDs remain untreated. This is partially due to an absence of awareness of STD infection
on the part of the individual as well as the challenge of finding STD testing and treatment services. Many STDs remain asymptomatic for many
years, providing the person infected with the STD with little to no indication that they need to seek medical attention.
Most women in developing countries breast-feed their children. Breastmilk offers a number of advantages to both the mother
and the child.
- Breast milk protects infants from a number of health-threatening infections.
- Breast milk is convenient, free and socially acceptable in most developing countries.
- Artificial milk requires water as an ingredient. If a woman used unsafe water from a contaminated water supply, then she would run the
risk of exposing her child to a myriad of infections.
But HIV can be transmitted through breast milk, and in developing countries, breastfeeding significantly contributes to the
incidence of HIV among children.
- In developing countries, between one third and one half of all HIV infections in young children are acquired through breast milk.
This is largely due to the fact that an estimated nine out of every 10 HIV-positive women
living in developing countries do not know they are infected. For more information on breastfeeding, please
on the Internet. »
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