Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Aids in Africa

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Throughout history there have been several viruses that have struck the world. However, two viruses in particular seem to have a stronger connection and relevance, considering their devastation to the world. Both the Black Death and the AIDS in Africa have been devastating diseases. Though they have taken place at different times, their effects on the population have been very similar. The health care that was present at the times and places of these events was not effective enough to stop the diseases from ravaging the people of Europe and Africa.

The effects of the Black Death and the AIDS in Africa have been very similar even though they occurred hundreds of years apart. The health care that has developed through these hundred of years is still not enough to stop devastating plagues. In the time of the Black Death, any health care was scarce and what you found wasn’t very helpful. Today, however, health care has greatly improved but still is not complete. This improved health care seems almost irrelevant considering the number of people, which have died from the AIDS in Africa, has practically surpassed the number of people that died from the Black Death six hundred years ago. “The global death toll from AIDS is approaching the 0 million killed by the bubonic plague in the Middle Ages”(Collins, 1).

The AIDS virus and the Black Death have different forms of transmitting themselves from person to person, but both methods seem to be very effective. The AIDS virus is transmitted through the spread of bodily fluids. The Black Death is spread by virtually any contact with the disease. Also, for both of the plague’s times there was no cure for the ravaging diseases.

From the understanding that the diseases cannot be stopped, we are brought to the conclusion that once transmitted, the death toll will only increase. “The virus has killed 1 million people worldwide, up from 16. million at the end of 18. It has infected 4 million more, including 5.4 million last year”(Collins, 1). The AIDS in Africa has infected approximately one quarter of the population, all of whom, unless a cure is found, will mostly likely die from it. The Black Death had even more devastating numbers considering it from a percentage view rather than actual totals. “During this short period, 5 million people (one third of Europe’s population at the time) were killed”(Janis, 1).

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The loss in population in Africa and in Europe (years ago) greatly affected the economy, for the worse. During the time of the Black Death there was a sever labor shortage and laborers demanded higher wages and usually got them. If the laborers did not receive their desired wages then they either moved on or led slave rebellions, and more chaos in the cities arose. The government tried to settle this by making laws of wage limits with the hope to return to the feudal system. However, the feudal system was gone and the struggling government could not go back to it because of the plague’s irreversible consequences.

In Africa few countries were looked at as a model for a good government. Some say they flourished, just like a few countries in the Middle Ages managed to move along. However, countries like Botswana have fallen victim to the AIDS virus just like several European countries did to the Black Death. The AIDS virus is only slowing countries in Africa down because so many are infected with the disease. And hopes of a better government or life cannot begin to start without the thought of the elimination of AIDS.

There are and were great efforts made to stop the spread of these viruses. During the Black Death people tried to contain the infected people and limit contact as much as possible. If one person in a household was infected then it was likely that the whole household would also be infected. So many took the liberty to confine these families within their homes and leave them inside until they die. “The houses of the infected were bolted up, with the victims left to die inside”(Janis). The actions taken in Africa are similar but not as extreme.

Since the AIDS virus is not transmitted as easily as the Black Plague was the confinements of it are a little bit different. In African countries HIV prevention programs have started with the intent of informing the people on the subject of preventing AIDS. Much help from other countries is needed and used to help programs like these. “The Peace Corps will train all of its 1,400 volunteers in Africa to teach AIDS prevention and care”(Collins). The programs will inform the people in Africa of the various ways that AIDS can be transmitted, such as sex, blood transfusions, and other actions.

Though it seems that several countries are taking action to prevent AIDS in Africa the numbers are still escalating and will pass the number of people who fell to the Black Death. Strange as it seems, but less people died when help for stopping the virus was scarce and harsh on people as oppose to the combine forces of health care failing to stop the AIDS virus today. The quote “And, after the Black Death raged through Milan and claimed thousands of victims”(Setton), will be replaced by AIDS raging through Africa.

One reason that the Black Death may have been confined to approximately twenty million murders and the AIDS virus is still on the rampage may be because of the way it was confined; and that the AIDS is being taken so liberal and head-on. When the Black Death struck, people abandoned their town or village to avoid contact with the virus. In Africa people are going to the infected residents and trying to help them and show others how to protect themselves, while exposing their own lives to the virus.

As we have seen viruses throughout time dominating and seeming to only grow stronger. When one such as the Black Death is eliminated, another such as AIDS resumes and becomes even more devastating. The health care may appear to be growing but the viruses in the world are growing even faster. The Black Death and the AIDS in Africa are two different diseases from two different times, but what they do have in common is their dominance over health care.


Adams, Mike. “AIDS is Devastating Sub-Saharan Africa.” Baltimore Sun. July 16, 2000

Collins, Huntly. “AIDS Is Rivaling Deadliest Plague.” Detroit Free Press. June 8, 2000

Esler, Anthony. The Western World A Narrative History. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey Simon & Schuster/ A Viacom Company.

Janis, Ely. The History of The Black Death.

Setton, Kenneth M. The Renaissance maker of a modern man. Washington D.C. National Geographic Society, 1914.

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