A Global Pandemic

All too often, HIV/AIDS is an issue that finds itself swept under the table. As millions of individuals around the globe suffer at the hands of an infection so fierce that it threatens a massive portion of the international community, many of us remain completely and utterly unaware of its vast coverage and devastating impact. Before studying HIV/AIDS this summer, I realized my lack of education on one of the globe’s most pressing issues. Sure, I was versed (to some degree) on Sub-Saharan Africa and the impediments HIV has created in the unfortunate region, but I knew little about the Caribbean and other localities that have experienced increasing prevalence rates in recent years.

“In 2006, close to 1.7 million people are living with HIV/AIDS in Latin America and the Caribbean…” – The World Bank

And if you think that this isn’t that’s worth being up in arms about, then you better guess again. The problem with HIV is that it creates branches upon branches of problems that continuously stab at developing countries, already weak from slow economic growth and other defaults.

In the Caribbean, AIDS is the leading cause of death among 15 to 44 year olds. Have you any idea what the ramifications for such an atrocity are? In sum, this means that many of society’s brightest are perishing well before their time. In sociopolitical terms, this poses devastating setbacks for developing countries trying to emerge from past setbacks.

Not only are these countries coping with disease, but also the individuals who would typically be responsible for structural growth (those 15 to 44-year-olds) are most at risk to lose their lives at the hands of this hateful virus.

HIV is unique in that it shows no favorability; it touches every ethnicity, every locality. My heart breaks for those African orphans who have lost their parents and have nobody left to look after them – those women who have been thrust into the sex industry only to contract what will lead to their imminent demise.

It is estimated that this pandemic has left 39.4 million individuals to cope with its wrath. In 2005, this was the global estimate of individuals living with the infection, which was found to be the highest to date at that time.

Since 1999, life expectancy has gone down in 38 countries. It’s time to take action; get involved in worthy causes that seek to fight the spread of this disease. Prevention methods are essential if we truly seek a brighter tomorrow. Luckily, the U.S., the U.N., The World Bank and many others have stepped up to the plate and have poured billions into programs aimed at education vulnerable populations, but there’s still so much more to do.