Human Immunodeficiency Virus is a virus that weakens the human immune system, sometimes leading to AIDS. If detected early, HIV can be managed to prevent it from progressing to the final stage of AIDS. HIV attacks CD4 cells exposing the infected person to opportunistic infections. Proper diagnosis, treatment, and medical care are essential factors to effective management and control of AIDS which has no permanent cure. While HIV is majorly a sexually transmitted disease, the virus can be transmitted through blood transfusion and during birth or breastfeeding, as well as through a few other means.
Countries with the Highest Rates of HIV/AIDs
Swaziland has the highest rate of HIV/AIDS infection in the world. 27.20% of the country's population lives with the infection. Most of the HIV infections in Swaziland are transmitted through unprotected sex, transactional sex, and sexual violence. Women are most affected by the epidemic with more than 31% reporting an HIV-positive status, compared to 20% in men. High levels of gender violence against women, polygamy, and early marriages to older men contribute to the high rates of infection among women.
25.00% of the population of Lesotho is infected with HIV/AIDS. Most of the infected persons are members of the lower-economic groups who are riddled with poverty. Such groups include women, young people aged between 15 and 24, and herd boys. They have little access to decent employment, formal education, and proper medical care.
Botswana has the world’s third-highest prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS. 21.90% of the population is HIV positive. Female sex workers have the highest rate of HIV infection. As in Swaziland, a greater percentage of the adult female population is affected by the epidemic than men. Forced marriages and gender-based violence owing to gender inequalities in the country have played a significant role in HIV transmission. Although Botswana has one of the best programs in sub-Saharan Africa for dealing with HIV, much work remains to be done.
4. South Africa
South Africa has the fourth-highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rate with 18.90% of the population testing positive for the virus. Lack of education, misguided beliefs about the disease, and sexual violence have contributed to these high rates. Women under the age of 40 including pregnant women are most affected.
Other countries with high rates of HIV/AIDS prevalence include Zimbabwe, Namibia, Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi, Uganda, Equatorial Guinea, Tanzania, Kenya, Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Bahamas, Nigeria, Rwanda, Congo, South Sudan, Chad, and Angola.
Effects of HIV/AIDS on Society
HIV/AIDS has far-reaching adverse effects on the economic, cultural, and social spheres of society. The epidemic drains the economy of the country as funds need to be diverted to treat the infected patients. It is also a great economic burden on individual families with HIV/AIDS as a significant portion of the income needs to be spent on treatment procedures. High prevalence of HIV/AIDS cripples the entire society and reduced the nation's productivity.
Efforts Towards Reducing HIV/AIDS Prevalence
Countries with the highest rates of HIV infection have taken several measures towards reducing the rate of infection among the population. Awareness programs are conducted to educate the public about HIV/AIDS. Antiretroviral therapies have been provided at low costs to treat HIV positive patients. Pregnant women who test positive for HIV are monitored strictly to prevent mother-to-child transmission of the infection. Other remedial measures have also been implemented to curb HIV/AIDS in these countries.