AIDS in Africa Essay Writing Prompts

AIDS is one of the most high profile diseases of the modern world and it's feared everywhere. While it's made many people change their lifestyles in the west, though, the place it's made the most impact is in Africa. AIDS in Africa may come up as a specific essay topic, or you may be assigned an essay on AIDS and decide to focus on Africa as your theme. Either way there are a number of interesting issues to look into. Here are a few suggestions.

  • How serious a problem is AIDS in Africa? Well, it's very serious. 5% of all people in sub-Saharan Africa are HIV positive and lack of access to health care means that most of them will eventually develop AIDS and die. 10% of all childhood deaths are due to HIV. By 2006 life expectancy in Botswana had fallen from 65 years to 35. Of the 52 million people in South Africa, 6 million are infected with HIV.
  • Why Africa? The HIV virus evolved in Africa. Genetic testing of the virus shows that a form of SIV, a similar virus that affects chimpanzees, made the jump to humans in Cameroon in about 1910. Because the virus has existed for so long it has had more chance to spread. African life expectancies for much of the 20th century were much lower than in industrialised countries, so it was possible for the disease to spread unnoticed; people could be infected, pass it on to others then die of something else, and nobody would ever know that they had HIV. In fact it wasn't identified until 1981, and investigation has shown that the first case outside Africa was in 1959.
  • Is there a solution? Right now the only solution is condoms. Unfortunately some organisations are actively sabotaging efforts to get people to use condoms, to the extent of telling people that condoms themselves cause AIDS. Circumcision has also been promoted and one study claims to have found it effective, but this has been widely attacked by scientists. The best long-term solution would be a cheap vaccine that can be routinely given to everyone, but no vaccine exists yet.
  • What are the moral issues? There is only one moral issue among epidemiologists; saving lives. Should that take precedence over other moral claims? Because AIDS is a disease most often transmitted through sex any prevention plan quickly becomes complicated by religious objections. These objections themselves can make interesting essay topics, such as the anti-condom propaganda; why do some people see contraception as worse than death? Is there a case for suppressing free speech when it endangers millions of lives?

Any one of these topics makes a good foundation for an essay. There is plenty of information available, from sources like the Centers for Disease Control, that will help you write a compelling and informative essay on the subject.


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