The incidence of HIV/AIDS continues to soar in many countries of sub-Saharan Africa, despite national and international efforts to curb the AIDS pandemic. Out of the 5 million new HIV/AIDS infections recorded every year worldwide, nearly 3.2 million cases were in sub-Saharan Africa. This approximates to 64% of the total global incidence of HIV/AIDS.
The high incidence of HIV/AIDS makes it impossible for Africa to achieve many of the global Millennium Development Goals. If appropriate steps were not taken to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS, the epidemic would continue to roll back progress and hard won gains.
One of the important steps in restricting the spread of HIV/AIDS is educating the public, more specifically the at risk group about patterns of HIV transmission and other factors that aggravate the spread. Young women face an increased risk of contracting HIV/AIDS during sexual activities.
The lack of adequate knowledge about sexually transmitted infections, the presence of weak health care systems and the unavailability of proper treatment of the STIs increase the vulnerability to HIV infection. In addition to the above-mentioned factors, effective prevention of HIV/AIDS remains a dream owing to the lack of counseling services.
Most girls and young women are still not aware of ways and means to protect themselves from the deadly virus. Surprisingly, although HIV/AIDS is widespread in Africa, 66% of South Africans expressed that they were unlikely to become infected, in a 2005 survey.
Tendency to indulge in sex at an early stage, early marriage, and polygamy are other cultural and gender issues that need to be addressed. Gender inequalities prevent girls from refusing high-risk sex-related matters needs to be overcome, so information is shared more widely and effectively. Additionally, men and young boys also need to be educated about safe sex practices and high-risk behavior that increase chances of HIV/AIDS transmission.
Only if the prevention activities are successful will it be possible to attain the global goal of Universal Access to prevention, care and treatment for HIV and AIDS by 2010.