Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a sexually transmitted virus that can also spread by contact with infected blood, or from mother to child transmission during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding. HIV causes Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), a chronic and a life threatening condition that disarms the immune system to fight organisms that cause disease. HIV infections and AIDS have no cure as of the moment. Only anti-viral medications are available to delay the onset of AIDS and its fatal complications. The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified these top 10 countries with the highest incidence of HIV infection as of 2013 based on its annual WHO Health Statistics Report:
10. Kenya – Kenya has suffered a severe and generalized HIV epidemic since the 1980’s. It has progressively declined by 10% due to the effective access to Anti-Retroviral Therapy. To date, 8% of women and 4% of the male population are infected. The prevalence rate of HIV is as high as 53% due to injection drug users and rampant prostitution. Government efforts focus on equipping health workers with the necessary knowledge to educate the populace about HIV and AIDS to prevent further spread of the infection.
9. Uganda – Uganda has a very high incidence of HIV and AIDS among the sub-Saharan regions. In the year 2000, Uganda is the first country to institute a Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT) clinic in all of its state, where an active information dissemination drive is done about HIV/AIDS, counseling about mother to child transmission and the voluntary HIV testing. The increasing number of test volunteers may have contributed to its high number of incidents, but the campaign effectively earned them massive foreign aid in the form of Condoms, Medicines and Western Blot HIV test kits.
8. Malawi – By 2005, adult population infected by HIV rose to 14.3 %. The Malawi women are disproportionately infected due to unprotected heterosexual sex, and consequently transmit the virus to their babies. Malawi also suffers a lack of health care professionals and health care facilities thus triggering an epidemic of tuberculosis among the immune-compromised hosts.
7. Zambia – Zambia has a generalized HIV epidemic rising up to 17% among the adult population. Main mode of transmission is by heterosexual sex and mother to child transmission with a higher incidence in towns and cities compared to villages. Prostitutes and military personnel are at high risk.
6. Namibia – HIV/AIDS is a critical public health issue in Namibia. Since 1986, almost 17% of children below 18 are orphaned by at least one parent due to AIDS. There is a significant decline in life expectancy since 61 by the year 1991 to 49 years old by 2001 because of AIDS. The spread is attributable to heterosexual sex with multiple concurrent partners, prostitution and child abuse.
5. Zimbabwe – In 2005, almost 1.6 million adults above the age of 15 have been diagnosed with HIV, but the prevalence rate has slowly declined through the years because of changes in sexual behavior and the popular use of condoms. Zimbabwe has serious nutritional problems because of food insecurity making the people more prone to weakened immune system and diseases. The mortality rate is attributable to tuberculosis as an opportunistic infection.
4. South Africa – In 2007, the Joint Council of UN against AIDS (UNAIDS) declared an infection rate of 5.7 Million South Africans infected with HIV. This is the highest number of infected population in any single country in the world. South Africa has received millions of Anti-Retroviral Treatment from Global Health initiatives to treat HIV patients, where they have drastically lowered the mortality rate of HIV patients.
3. Botswana – Botswana has among the highest incidences of HIV/AIDS in the world. With an infection rate of 14.5% as of 2013, Botswana identifies the most common form of transmission is through heterosexual sex between the military and the young women. There is a large disproportionate ratio of 2 women infected is to 1 male infected.
2. Lesotho – Lesotho has currently declared HIV/AIDS as a national disaster threatening the adult population with a prevalence rate of 29.1% due to sexual behavior. Lesotho has fostered the use of condoms and has received billions of dollars from the Global Fund for AIDS to purchase anti-Retroviral agents to treat the HIV infected population.
1. Swaziland – Swaziland is in serious problem of HIV and AIDS, having 64% of its mortality attributable to HIV/AIDS and related complications. HIV and AIDS are the leading socioeconomic challenge of this country. In a matter of 9 years from 2000 to 2009, life expectancy in Swaziland has fallen from 61 years old to 32 years old due to the uncontrolled epidemic of AIDS. As of 2013, 15.8% of the population has already been infected by HIV. UN and WHO has expressed that if the spread is not controlled, AIDS will seriously threaten the existence of Swaziland as a country.