A Ugandan AIDS Scenario
The men die; by which time their wives usually have been infected too. Before long, they too are dying, cared for by their children. When the mothers die, the older children look after the younger ones or they go to live with their grandparents or neighbours. One woman points out the graves of all nine of her children and their spouses. She is bringing up their 20 children by herself. In one diocese alone, there are 60,000 children who have been orphaned by AIDS.
By the year 2000, only two years away, the World Health Organisation (WHO) predicts that 40 million people world-wide will be infected with HIV, 14 million of these will be in Africa.
There are hopes of a vaccine and of some form of treatment by the year 2000. However, these are likely to be extremely expensive and well beyond the reach of Ugandans. Uganda is a very poor country and crippled by debt; in addition its economic performance will be increasingly affected by AIDS as the majority of the individuals affected will be in the working age group.
The graph shows the Age of Ugandan AIDS cases
Emphasis' therefore, has to be placed on education to try and reduce these frightening statistics. This is precisely what the Ugandan Scouts are doing. They are performing songs, plays and poems to the public, to make them more aware of AIDS and how to prevent it. UNICEF is developing a large project which looks at peer group education. The Ugandan Scouts will also be part of this programme.
Another issue which Scouts and people in Uganda are also tackling is the importance of giving support to the families and relatives of those who care for people who are suffering and dying from AIDS.
How Serious is AIDS in the United Kingdom?
AIDS is an incurable disease and it can be contracted anywhere in the world. Indeed in the United Kingdom, AIDS is also spreading rapidly. Although only a few hundred people have died from the disease in Britain, it is estimated that a further 30,000 people in the country are HIV carriers and that a third of these will develop AIDS at some stage.
How is HIV passed on?
The HIV virus is transmitted through body fluids. You can therefore, only catch the virus if an infected person's body fluid (blood, semen) enters your blood through a break in the skin or through the membrane of the mouth, eye, vagina or rectum. HIV can also be transmitted from mothers to babies and from the graph shown earlier you can see that children in Uganda do not tend to live beyond five years of age if they are born with the HIV virus.