Silent Killer

WAR is an organization focused on gender equality.  For the purposes of WUSC classifying the volunteers, WAR is slotted in the HIV/AIDS sector.  Here are some of the things I have learned about HIV/AIDS in Botswana.

The Botswana GDP per capita is much higher than many other countries in Africa.  Because of the discovery of diamond in the country, the government has the ability to provide plenty of assistance to its citizens.  The infrastructure of the country is very good compared to other African countries.  It is politically and economically stable.

Despite the wealth of the country, HIV/AIDS spreads through the country like wild fire.  The most recent statistic released is that 17.5% of the population is HIV positive.

17.5%!

That’s the second highest infection rate in the world (after Swaziland).

Life expectancy is only 36.3 years at birth.  The baby boomer generation is almost entirely missing, and this is mostly an effect of HIV. 

There are far more women who are HIV positive than men.  This is because one male would have multiple female partners, driving the female infection rate much higher.

Over 33% of pregnant women are HIV positive.  That means there’s a great chance that the baby would be infected as well.

The Botswana government provides assistance to their citizens for antiretroviral (ARV) treatment for free starting in the late 90’s.  This has slowed down the number of deaths per year, but has done nothing for the number of people getting infected.

HIV is highly stigmatized and people avoid talking about it.  ARV allows people to live with HIV and appear healthy.  ARV has made HIV more hidden, and in a way, more dangerous.

I think Botswana is a country with significant potentials to become a leader of economy in Africa.  But with a HIV rate of 17.5% and the same percentage of government spending on health care alone, growth is crippled.  It would take some major and sustained campaigns for the message of prevention to reach all corners of the country.

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2 thoughts on “Silent Killer

  1. Hey, Angela! Loving your blog. Re the whole HIV catastrophe, the pope's recent comments haven't helped. Claiming condoms don't stop HIV infection? They must do things rather differently in Rome.

    All the donkeys roaming the streets reminds me of Lamu in Kenya. No cars at all, only donkeys, fed by the town at feeding stations throughout the town and whenever anyone needs one for transportation or to carry things, they simply put a halter on one and then let it loose when they're done. Many people walk around carrying their halter just in case . . .

    So glad you're enjoying yourself and you must be looking forward to seeing Cliff shortly! Travel safe after this.

    Yours in jealousy,
    Nancy

  2. Hey Nancy, good to hear from you!

    I had no idea the pope said that. That is unreal! Luckily most people here are not Catholic. I hope they ignore what he said.

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