Thursday, 1 December 2011
Thirty years of AIDS
The virus is called the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, or HIV, and the illness it causes is Acquired Immuno Deficency Syndrome – AIDS.
Thirty years on, there is still no cure, although treatments have alleviated some of the sufferings and helped prolong both life and its quality for many sufferers, especially in the prosperous countries of the world. However, those who live in the developing world, whose finances won’t allow them to pay for the necessary drugs, continue to suffer.
Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the hardest hit areas of the world, with more than 24 million people living with HIV. That is 6.1% of the population, which compares to just an infection rate in North America, Western and Central Europe of just 0.5%.
The spread of the virus has been exacerbated by myth and rumour, as well as by ignorance. In certain countries, people believed that having sex with virgins would cure them, which led to the abuse of young girls, who were then infected themselves.
Infected men passed it on to their wives, who passed it on to babies in pregnancy or through breast feeding, and another generation was blighted.
Because it became known as a sexually transmitted disease, it was shrouded in shame and secrecy. Sufferers could lose jobs, livelihoods and status because of the virus, so many tell no-one they are infected, which inevitably leads to further infections.
In future, we hope, research will lead to successful treatments and cures. In the meantime, we do what we can to halt the spread of the virus. World In Need works to educate people, so that the myths can be dispelled and ignorance countered.
Our sponsorship programme spreads education, which empowers vulnerable people to protect themselves, reducing their susceptibility to the false beliefs and superstitions surrounding HIV.
Sponsored children are less vulnerable too, to lifestyles which endanger them. They don’t have to resort to begging and prostitution in order to survive, and are less likely to fall prey to those who would use and abuse them. They grow into adults who can make informed decisions which protect them, in areas such as family planning.
If you’d like to know more about helping us in the fight for the future of the children of the world, why not contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org?