The story of HIV/ AIDS is well known in Africa, East. Musician Philly Lutaaya of Uganda was one of the first to announce publicly he had AIDS and to lead an awareness campaign in Uganda. Uganda has been one of the first countries to be open about HIV-AIDS. This has paid off as they have decreased the prevalence rate of the disease considerably over the years, through education.
Recently Stephen Lewis has campaigned tirelessly for the situation of HIV in Africa, focussing very much on Lesotho and bringing the HIV epidemic in southern Africa to the fore, for active intervention. Rock stars, businessmen and national leaders Bono, Geldof, Tony Blair, Bill Gates and others in the fight against poverty have identified HIV and Malaria as prime targets in the effort to save Africa. But who talks about West Africa and the HIV epidemic?
I came across 2005 figures on the web and was surprised to find that more people were infected with HIV in Ghana than Lesotho. Albeit the prevalence is 2.3% in Ghana compared to 23% in Lesotho.
Here are some absolute numbers of people living with HIV in West Africa in 2005: www.avert.org
Sierra Leone 48,000
Burkina Faso 150000
Ivory Coast 750,000
In considering disease, prevalence may be as important as incidence, because it gives the percentage of a population that is affected and therefore a measure of the impact of the disease on all aspects of life in the affected country: productivity, poverty, orphaned children etc.
The figures quoted here are the 2005 figures and in most cases things have gone worse. This is food for thought for West Africans who may have felt somewhat complacent about HIV. Very soon we may each know a close someone affected by the disease. What are you going to do about this? Read about HIV on the web or in the news, start a concerned group, look for ways to help by raising funds or supporting some related initiative. Do something. The Ugandan campaign which was started in the 1990s was called the ABC campaign. What do you think ABC stands for? Check in here tomorrow to find out.