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HIV – not a positive footprint

It is estimated that about 14,000 people become newly infected with HIV every day and more than half of these are between the age of 15 and 24. AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) is a result of the HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) which is passed from one person to another through blood and sexual contact. Pregnant women can also pass HIV to their baby during pregnancy or delivery; only one in three HIV positive pregnant women in poor countries has access to the treatment needed to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV.  

Being HIV-positive, or having HIV disease, is not the same as having AIDS. Many people are HIV-positive but don't get sick for many years. However, as the disease continues, it slowly wears down the immune system – the system within the body which fights infection and disease – and eventually becomes AIDS when the immune system has become seriously damaged.  

As this happens, viruses, infections and bacteria which normally the body can fight off become more dangerous and without effective treatments these infections can kill. 

There is no cure for AIDS or HIV. There are only drugs, known as anti retroviral drugs, which slow down the HIV virus and slow down the damage to the body’s immune system. 

The impact of HIV/AIDS will affect lives for many generations to come? Examine the following and think about how AIDS could have a devastating affect for years to come.


  • An estimated 42 million people are living with HIV/AIDS.
  • More than 20 million people have died from AIDS.
  • Four million children have been infected since the virus first appeared.
  • About one in 12 African adults is living with HIV/AIDS.

HIV/AIDS is the deadliest epidemic of our time.
In many countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa AIDS has spread rapidly, leaving illness, death and poverty in its wake. But even if a cure was found, many people would be left not just with the misery inflicted by the illness today, but also the impacts on their future tomorrow. For example:

  • If one or both parents of children die from AIDS, they can suddenly become orphans and find it very difficult to stay at school. What impact will this have for the future?
  • HIV/AIDS tends to weaken and kill many people in their young adulthood. What impact will this have for the future?
  • Many healthcare workers and teachers are also being affected by HIV/AIDS. What impact will this have for the future? 

Here are some of the reasons you may have thought of…

  • By forcing children to drop out of school, AIDS could result in future generations being less knowledgeable and skilled and so less able to contribute to income generation in their families or society at large.
  • AIDS damages economies by killing off skilled and able workers in their most productive years for income generation and when they play an important role in passing on skills and knowledge.
  • AIDS causes the breakdown of families by removing a whole generation that is so important for caring both for the younger and older persons in society.

What other long term impacts of HIV/AIDS can you think of? See a page from the organisation Avert to help you identify the impacts of HIV/AIDS