South Africa is one of the most developed countries of Africa. At the same time, this country faces the problem of the fast spread of HIV AIDS. In this regard, some specialists (Barnett and Whiteside 2002) view HIV AIDS as a threat to the national health and national security because the increasing rate of people suffering from AIDS can undermine the demographic situation and provoke the epidemic of HIV AIDS in South Africa. The spread of HIV AIDS in South Africa is a problem which is widely-spread in Africa, but South Africa, being one of the most developed countries of Africa, is particularly vulnerable to the negative impact of HIV AIDS, taking into consideration the actual potential of the country in the struggle against HIV AIDS. In such a situation, the prevention of the spread of HIV AIDS is a strategic goal of the South African authorities as well as numerous NGOs and international organizations, which provide the local population with essential aid.
At the same time, it is worth mentioning the fact that the problem of the spread of HIV AIDS is accompanied by substantial differences between different ethnic groups in South Africa. What is meant here is the fact that the black population of South Africa is particularly vulnerable to the wide spread of HIV AIDS, while whites are less affected by this health problem. In such a context, it is possible to speak about the ethnic diversity in spread of HIV AIDS in South Africa. The existing difference between various ethnic groups has multiple causes, including substantial socioeconomic gaps and cultural traditions existing in different ethnic groups which make them more or less vulnerable to spread of HIV AIDS. Therefore, it is extremely important to communicate the full extent of the problem of HIV AIDS in South Africa, its negative impact on the national and individual health to all ethnic groups of the population of South Africa and promote effective prevention techniques, which can help the local population to stop the wide spread of HIV AIDS in South Africa. In this regard, it is necessary to use active and effective communication tools, such as special information campaigns, including special events and social and health programs, sex education programs and the coordination of actions of the government and NGOs.
Diversity of South African population
In order to understand the difference in the spread of HIV AIDS in South Africa, it is necessary to define the target audience, which should get the full information about HIV AIDS. The diversity of the local population determined the diversity of cultural traditions and norms and the attitude of representatives of different ethnic groups to HIV AIDS. What is meant here is the fact that some ethnic groups heavily rely on their traditions, which accelerate the spread of HIV AIDS, while others are more flexible and can protect themselves from HIV AIDS more effectively. In this respect, it should be said that the two major ethnic groups in South Africa is African population and white population.
The African population, i.e. the black population of South Africa, comprises the majority of the population, but their socioeconomic position is characterized by numerous problems and a considerable part of the black population of South Africa live in poverty. In addition, cultural traditions of the African population of the country promote the traditional lifestyle of the local population, which implies the lack of sex education of children and the population, low educational level of the population. The latter is particularly dangerous in regard to the spread of HIV AIDS among the black population of South Africa.
As for the white population of South Africa, this group takes the dominant position in the South African society. At the same time, the white population of South Africa has a higher educational level compared to other ethnic groups. In addition, the white population of South Africa represents the middle and upper-classes of the society that makes them less vulnerable to the spread of HIV AIDS, which are widely spread in poverty-stricken neighborhoods (Williams, 2000). Moreover, whites in South Africa are more inclined to use effective preventive measures, including contraception, to stop the spread of HIV AIDS, while less educated ethnic groups, including black and Indian population of South Africa. At this point, it is worth mentioning that Indians represent the third major ethnic group in South Africa, which is also vulnerable to the impact of HIV AIDS. At the same time, the rate of patients suffering from HIV AIDS is the highest among Africans ”“ 13.5% (See Table 1). In addition, the prevalence of patients with HIV AIDS is particularly high in regions where the black population dominates (See Table 1). Therefore, the problem of the spread of HIV AIDS is closely intertwined with ethnic diversity and cultural traditions of different ethnic groups as well as their socioeconomic status.
In such a way, it is obvious that Africans should be the target population of educational and health programs oriented on the prevention of HIV AIDS in South Africa. The local authorities as well as NGOs should conduct a large scale advertising and educational campaign, especially among the black population of South Africa, to explain the essence of HIV AIDS and mechanisms of the transmission of the disease. In such a way, it will be possible to stop disease and the spread of HIV AIDS, but it is important to focus on all age groups in order to increase the awareness of the population concerning the danger of HIV AIDS.
The impact of HIV AIDS on different age groups
The impact of HIV AIDS differs not only depending on the ethnic groups, but it also varies among different age groups. In this regard, HIV AIDS prevails among adults and young adults from the age of 25 and above to 50 (See Table1). At the same time, it is worth mentioning the fact that, even though the rate of children infected with HIV AIDS is relatively low, it is still quite disturbing. However, it should be said that within last decade the share of children suffering from HIV AIDS decreased from 5.6% for children at the age of 2-14 in 2002 to 2.5% for the same age group in 2008. In such a way, it is possible to speak about a positive trend, but still children need to be informed about the danger of HIV AIDS and mechanisms of the spread of the disease. This is why the local authorities and NGOs should pay a particular attention to education of children.
At the same time, the population of South Africa, especially children, suffers from the problem of death of relatives from AIDS. In fact, many children remain orphans because AIDS take away their parents.
AIDS orphans with their grandmother
In such a way, the young generation grows without parental support that increases the risk of the wide spread of HIV AIDS because of a low educational level of children and the lack of parents who could have helped children to avoid risks of being infected with HIV AIDS.
HIV AIDS and sex education in South Africa
Obviously, sex education is one of the crucial factors that influences substantially the spread of HIV AIDS in South Africa, especially among the most vulnerable groups, Africans, who have a low educational level and do not understand the full extent to which HIV AIDS is dangerous and to which they are exposed to the risk of being infected by the disease. In such a situation, sex education of children as well as adults is extremely important because it is mainly through educational programs it is possible to communicate the essence of the problem and effective methods of its prevention to large masses of people.
In this respect, it is possible to use visual means which inform the population about the danger and ways of contamination with HIV AIDS.
The following images present various forms in which this information can be conveyed to different age groups of the local population.
HIV awareness billboard by loveLife
A Mural in Johannesburg
A poster geared towards students and youths, advocating the use of condoms.
Obviously, the youth and children should be the principal audience because they are the future of the nation and they do not have sufficient information about HIV AIDS. Moreover, in many African communities, parents often ignore sex education and they avoid educating their children that increases the risk of the wide spread of HIV AIDS, especially among youth which lead active sexual life. Instead, the use of understandable and simple visual means, like images presented above, can explain the audience the essence of the problem and mechanisms of the prevention of HIV AIDS. At any rate, such visualization can help to educate younger generation and minimize the risk of the wide spread of HIV AIDS in South Africa.
Naturally, the government and NGOs should develop educational programs which can back up the information delivered to the target audience through visual means described above. In fact, children and the youth should be motivated to protect themselves from HIV AIDS and avoid unnecessary risks. In this regard, informing the population is not enough because the population needs education and, especially, sex education to prevent the further spread of HIV AIDS nationwide.
HIV AIDS: public events and social programs
Thus, the government and NGOs should focus on the development of educational and social programs to inform the public about HIV AIDS and means of prevention of the spread of the disease. In this regard, it is important to draw the public attention to the problem and many NGOs do it successfully organizing conferences, manifestations and other public events which inform the public about HIV AIDS and its prevention:
Demonstration at South African AIDS Conference
World HIV AIDS day 2008
In this respect, it should be said that such events as World HIV AIDS day are particularly effective in terms of the struggle with the disease because such events draw the attention of the entire nation to the problem which persists and affects different layers of the society. At the same time, such events should pay a particular attention to risk groups, including Africans, who are particularly vulnerable to the spread of HIV AIDS in their communities.
On the other hand, the state programs and support of project targeting at the prevention of the spread of HIV AIDS is also extremely important. In fact, the South African authorities have developed the national program of the prevention of HIV AIDS in South Africa:
The National HIV and AIDS and TB Program includes the following programs:
- Office of the Chief Director: HIV and AIDS and TB
- Interdepartmental Support Program
- National Integrated Plan
- Consultants: CDC
- Directorate: HIV and AIDS and STIs
- Youth Program
- Partnership Support
- STI and HIV and AIDS Prevention
- Treatment, Care and Support
- Directorate: Government AIDS Action Plan
- Directorate: Tuberculosis
- Directorate: NGO Coordination
This program may be imperfect but it reveals the intention of the authorities to cooperate closely with NGOs. In such a way, it is possible to maximize the effectiveness of the efforts of both the authorities and NGOs to reach the desirable end ”“ to stop HIV AIDS in South Africa.
Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that the problem of the fast spread of HIV AIDS is a challenge to the national health of South Africa. The recent trends and statistics (See Table 1) are quite disturbing because, regardless of certain slowdown of the spread of HIV AIDS in the country, South Africa is still affected by the disease and the national health is still insecure in face of a threat of HIV AIDS epidemic. In such a situation, the authorities and NGOs should focus on the risk groups. The risk groups reveal the diversity of the local population, its cultural traditions, socioeconomic position and the impact of such diversity on the spread of HIV AIDS. In fact, the black population turns out to be particularly vulnerable to the spread of HIV AIDS, while other ethnic groups, especially whites are less vulnerable to HIV AIDS because of a higher educational level, better socioeconomic status, different cultural traditions. In such a situation, the efforts of the government and NGOs should be focused on informing the target audience, especially the blacks, about the danger of HIV AIDS, ways of contamination, and means prevention of the disease. For this purpose, it is necessary to use visual means and promotional campaigns which inform people about the disease. In addition, it is necessary to develop educational programs. Finally, it is necessary to unite efforts of the government and NGOs in the struggle with HIV AIDS nationwide.