What is the African government's point of view with the issue of AIDS in Africa?

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lprono eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Africa is made of many different counties, each with its own government and its own policies towards AIDS. It's difficult to draw a common strategy to fight the virus also given that Western governments are unwilling to fund and build one. The quick spread of the virus through all walks of life and sexual orientations made its initial identification with gay men increasingly meaningless and showed instead that the veritable risk category was that of the poor. The fact that poverty represents a considerable risk factor makes the virus not simple a health issue but also a socio-economic and security issue. In Africa, the killing of millions of people at the hands of AIDS has reduced the workforce, worsen famine, impoverished communities and has made a large number of children orphans. The African continent shows that there is an apparent connection between AIDS and hunger.

The difficulty of getting adequate funding for a common policy in the fight against AIDS is vividly described in the first article quoted in the reference section which was written by Stephen Lewis, the UN Special Envoy for AIDS in Africa. Lewis defines this lack of Western funding as "mass murder by complacency". He opposes the engagement he witnessed in African communities with the Western suspicion that African developing countries do not care to fight the virus. The denialist policies that were widespread in South Africa under the Mbeki's government (2000-2008) have been severely contested by other African leaders.

African countries are trying to overcome the colonial legacy which left health services more cure rather than research/prevention oriented. In addition, the allocation of financial resources to healthcare systems has been traditionally limited and this made those systems completely unable to face the pandemic in the 1990s. Access to early testing and retroviral drugs, fundamental in fighting the disease, has remained limited throughout the first decade of the twenty-first century. Rather than on abstinence and marital fidelity (being faithful to a HIV-positive partner is equally dangerous than a promiscuous behavior), later prevention campaigns have increasingly focused on condom use and on fighting pernicious stereotypes and beliefs.

African governments have also appealed against the decision of pharmaceutical companies to maintain a monopoly on antiretroviral drugs, making the development of generic versions of brand-name drugs impossible. Such development would allow a much larger access to treatment.