We now know that HIV/AIDS is a disease that anyone could contract without proper precautions, and while once contracted it is eventually fatal, often, it's symptoms can be treated successfully for a long time. But a question still remains: Why do so many people still die from HIV/AIDS, especially internationally?
Here, in the US, treatment and prevention of disease is pretty closely tracked by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. You probably remember the CDC as a big player in the recent H1N1 shenanigans, but they also have records on things like HIV and AIDS -- keeping track of cases as well as providing educational information on the disease. However, a less developed country, like many in Africa, may be struggling to keep power, and disease control and prevention can be pushed to the wayside.
The only way to change this is education, learning! In the same way that I had to educate myself on HIV/AIDS, people everywhere need to be informed of just what HIV/AIDS is and how you contract it. By doing this, fewer people will get the disease, and the stigma that comes from ignorance about the disease can be relieved.
Another factor in the health and survival of people with HIV/AIDS is how clean their environment is: if they live in a clean environment, they are less likely to get any other infection or sickness. I know even in my dorm room, we have clean running water, a refridgerator to keep our food at a safe temperature, and oven to cook food and be sure that no harmful germs can get into our stomachs. Unfortunately, a lot of the rest of the world is in a different situation. World Vision lists this statistic:
"Worldwide, 884 million people lack access to safe water, and 2.5 billion lack basic sanitation."
That's rough. And again, I'm not writing this to make you feel guilty about your running water. Please continue showering on a regular basis. (That means you, Russel Brand!)
When you don't have clean water, it affects every facet of your life. You drink dirty water which leads to illnesses and often diarrhea, which will lead to dehydration. When you are too dehydrated to find your next meal, soon enough, without outside help, you have very little time left. Clean water can prevent all of that.
These are the big two, really. If people in less developed countries can be educated on the risks that can lead to HIV, and then we can do our part to provide clean water, the change would be remarkable.
Isn't it wild the things that are so easily changed? Stay tuned for some ideas coming up on how you can help, and who you are helping.