HIV in South Africa Essay

‘Evaluate the most important factors in determining the relative emphasis placed by policy-makers, in S. A. on prevention as opposed to treatment of HIV. ‘ One of the major problems affecting the South African country is the spread of HIV. The country is believed to have the most number of HIV victims than any other country. As seen on the diagram, South Africa has the highest adult HIV prevalence. (GRAPH) Only 10% of the children who need treatment are able to have the benefit of undergoing treatment; this causes the country’s life expectancy to decrease further.

By looking at the different ways on how the government is dealing with the spread of HIV, we can see that their decisions are based towards the prevention of HIV as oppose to its treatment. This is evident in the political, economical and socio-cultural factors that determined the relative emphasis placed by policy makers on prevention as opposed to treatment of HIV in South Africa. Assessing the ideas and facts behind the political, economical and socio-cultural factors will allow us to evaluate the most important factors in determining the relative emphasis placed by policy-makers, in S. A. n prevention as opposed to treatment of HIV. One factor that determines the relative emphasis placed on policy-makers in South Africa is the political factors that affect the decisions made. The government believes that HIV does not lead to AIDS. According to Stephen Lewis, the government attempted to block the role out of antiretroviral treatment to keep people alive and instead used garlic and sweet potatoes as a cure for the virus. The authority’s attempt to save its people ironically made the situation worse. About 300,000-400,000 people died unnecessarily under the watch of former president Thabo Mbeki.

There was a strong increase in the number of HIV victims from 1999-2008, the years in which Thabo Mbeki ruled the country. The graph below clearly shows the increase of HIV cases by year. (GRAPH) It is evident that the government’s idea that HIV does not lead to AIDS has a great affect on the people. Attempting to stop the distribution of antiretroviral treatment shows that the policy-makers are leaning more towards laws that prevent the virus from spreading rather than rules on its treatment. Another fact that pushes policy-makers towards the prevention of HIV in opposed to treatment is the idea of buying drugs for the infected people.

If the government agrees that HIV leads to AIDS, then they would need to buy and spend for the drugs for the people. Having to spend for treatment for the people would only add to the financial problems the country is already facing. Corruption is another reason to why policy-makers lean towards prevention rather than treatment. Because advertising ways to prevent HIV is not as costly as providing treatment and medication for the people, politicians put more emphasis on the prevention in opposed to the treatment of HIV.

These political factors affect the emphasis of policy-makers on prevention instead of treatment. Another factor that establishes the relative emphasis on policy-makers in South Africa is the economic factors. Drugs are available to the South African HIV victims; however, many of them are costly. Though drugs are made at a reasonable cost, pharmacies sell their products at a more expensive cost in order to earn more money. The cost of the drugs prevents the government from helping the people attain these medicines, as they prefer to spend the money on things that benefit themselves more.

This leaves the people to fully spend for themselves without aid from their government. But because of their low income and lack of financial benefits, they are unable to provide themselves with the medicines that they need. Unlike MEDCs, South Africa does not offer its people with the amount of support that they need to face the HIV epidemic. Countries such as France have a system of universal health care, which is largely financed by the government through the national health insurance system.

This ensures that everyone has access to good health care even though they do not have enough money to pay for their treatment. South Africa would greatly benefit from this system but because of their excessive financial and economic problems, the country is unable to provide its people with this assistance. Since the people are not able to afford the medication that they need, policy-makers are forced to place emphasis on prevention in opposed to treatment again due to financial reason.

The last major factor in determining the relative emphasis placed by policy-makers in South Africa on prevention rather than treatment of HIV is the social-cultural factors. A common action of the people in the country is keeping the fact that they are infected with HIV a secret. Many look at this as a taboo subject wherein they must keep this information private. This practice leads to the spread of the epidemic, as many of them perform intercourse not knowing whether or not their partner has HIV. Another socio-cultural factor is the popular myth within the society that an HIV-positive person can be “cured” by sleeping with a virgin. This idea spreads the diseases even more throughout the community as men and even women do not stop until their sickness is “cured” by sleeping with a virgin. In order to prevent ideas such as these, true facts about HIV are advocated in public areas such as schools. However, there are many citizens who are unable to afford schooling or who simply do not bother to go to school, which leads them to believing false rumors about HIV and its capability to kill a person.

The government greatly encourages people to promotr ways on how to prevent HIV though it is still difficult with the few amounts of people attending school and the large amount of people who are uneducated and who lack the discipline to learn. By looking at the three most important factors in determining the relative emphasis placed by policy-makers in South Africa, we were able to evaluate it’s impact on the people and the government’s decision to lean towards prevention as opposed to treatment of HIV.

The example of political, economical and socio-cultural factors that were listed show that each aspect plays an important and specific role in determining the emphasis placed on the policy-makers. However, we were able to see that money was a key reason to why policy-makers lean towards prevention rather than treatment. Yet money affects each of the three main factors, which makes each one imperative to the emphasis placed on the government.