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Iulia Pariniuc

Stoneleigh-Burnham School

Posted on 05/27/01


AIDS is becoming one of the most important problems of the modern

world. According to “AIDS Epidemic Update 2000” and the World Health

Organization (WHO), the current number of people living with HIV or AIDS is

36.1 million, more than 50% higher than predicted in 1991. And this number

is increasing every day, hour and minute. The greatest number of

inhabitants sick with AIDS or HIV live in Africa. Over17 million Africans

have already died of AIDS-three times the number of AIDS deaths in the rest

of the world, orphaning 10 million or more African children. “The AIDS

situation in Africa is catastrophic and sub-Saharan Africa continues to

head the list as the world’s most affected region,” said Peter Piot,

Executive Director of UNAIDS. According to his report, estimated 3.8

million people became infected with HIV in sub –Saharan Africa during the

year, bringing the total number of people living with HIV/AIDS in the

region to 25.3 million, or almost a million more than in 1999.

The reason of such great spread of the disease is inadequate level of

living and absence of needed education. According to WHO, more than 50% of

African population does not live a safe sexual life, and the increase of

number of drugs deteriorate the problem. For example, according to Ministry

of Health statistics, 2.2 million Kenyans are ill with HIV, with average

500 deaths every day.

African medics do not want to show medical results to their patients

and to the government. They say that they do not reveal HIV results to

prevent the patients from fear of bad news. “Some patients literally die

hopelessly before their eyes”, they said. “Another problem is that when

some patients learn they are HIV positive, they go on their rampage,

despite the counseling we give them, said Matulumbu, an HIV/AIDS

specialist. The doctor, like his colleagues, said a number of patients even

took loans while others mortgaged family assets to use the money to spread

the disease. Such patients left their families double dilemma. Dr.

Matulumbu said: ”We are facing a serious problem because medics are not

trained on how to counsel HIV patients, yet we are expected to be a

counselor and a doctor at the same time.”

The patients, HIV and AIDS positive express discontent about the

doctors curing them. If the owner of the factory, a sick African is working

for, finds out that the worker is sick, he automatically dismiss him from

his work job. The owners of the companies do not want to deal with

insurance of sick workers, and do not want to employ HIV/ADIS patients. The

reality is sad, but it is true. Patients hide their results of HIV/AIDS

tests, and it is difficult to determine the number of sick Africans.

AIDS is not a disease that can be either determined or cured. The real

number of people with HIV positive is not known. Some of them do not want

to talk about the disease, others simply do not know they are sick.

To help in preventing AIDS, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in his

speech at UN conference for Least Developed Countries, proposed to organize

a global AIDS fund to sponsor the fight against AIDS. The world’s wealthy

nations are allegedly holding off donations to a proposed UN global health

fund, arguing, there are not enough guarantees that the money would be

spend correctly, the Associated Press said on May 19, 2001. Reporting from

the UN conference for Least Developed Countries in Brussels, AP said that

"many countries" remained skeptical about UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's

proposed US $7-10 billion fund to fight the spread of AIDS and other

infectious diseases. It quoted Poul Nielson, the European Union's (EU)

development commissioner as asking: "What will this fund do better than

what we are doing now?". "If we are just talking about a global AIDS fund,

we will not participate. It is too narrow," he added. The EU reportedly

wants the fund to include other transmittable diseases and tie it to

providing cheaper drugs for poorer countries.

The United States is the only large country to contribute to the global

fund so far, pledging US $200 million last week. That contribution was

criticized by, among others, the US-based Health Gap Coalition as "paltry".

The coalition called for Washington to allocate US $2 billion in new money.

(See www.healthgap.org)

Annan said on Thursday in Geneva that the proposed fund would be a

major tool for economic growth in the developing countries. He said that

plans for the fund are progressing. He noted that the fund should be

governed by an independent board, made up of stakeholders including

governments from both donor and developing countries, NGOs, the private

sector and the United Nations. The running of the fund should be done

through a small secretariat, which would draw on a technical advisory body

made up of international experts in the fields of health and development.

Addressing concerns that the proposed fund would pull money away from

existing health programs, Annan stressed that the fund must be additional

to existing funds and mechanisms, not just a new way of channeling money

that is already earmarked for development.

Although working, the efforts of the United Nations are not enough

without actual financial support they ask for. There is still a great need

in money and people to fight AIDS in African countries. The UN pledges for

the support from economically developed countries to help less developed

ones. It is extremely important that the society fights this crucial

disease, for it does not belong only to Africans, but to all the

inhabitants of the earth. Therefore it is everyone’s problem. People with

HIV/AIDS did not choose to be sick. It is time to start helping them before

it is too late.