The cases of HIV/AIDS were first reported in 1983 in Eastern Africa. The threat of the disease went from being rare to becoming a fact of daily existence for most families in Eastern Africa. HIV/AIDS affects all aspects of development from local government policies to foreign aid. Last year, approximately 10,000 cases from 20 mainland regions of Eastern Africa were reported by the World Health Organization. However, this number is an understatement since most people suffering from the disease are never diagnosed due to the social stigma associated with having HIV/AIDS. For example, in Kajera, a man after being diagnosed was killed by the local authorities who believed it was their responsibility to prevent the spread of the disease in their region. The general trend suggests a rapid increase in the spread of HIV/AIDS throughout the Eastern African population due to blood transfusions, mother to child transmission, and sexual relationships.
Epidemiologically speaking, HIV/AIDS is most pervasive in people who live below the poverty line, the youth, and women due to social-economic reasons. Poor people usually get infected due to the lack of contraceptive availability, diagnosis resources, and a complete lack of awareness about the ways of transmission of the disease and preventative measure to avoid the disease. Women also form one of the most vulnerable groups because they are deemed subordinate to men in Eastern African society and are usually economically dependent upon men for their existence. Youth (ages 10-17) is increasingly becoming a susceptible group to the disease due to the increase in child abuse, poverty, orphans and prostitution across Eastern Africa.
HIV/AIDS has also seriously impacted the economy of Eastern Africa. It has predominantly affected the middle and the lower classes which forms the backbone of the Eastern African agricultural and industrial sectors’ labor force. Moreover, it has substantially affected the socio-demographic parameters as evident by the sharp decline in life expectancy and the decrease in the number of nuclear families. The local government and international aid organizations realize the magnitude of the problem but have done little to stop the spread of the disease. Most of the government effort has been focused on the care for AIDS patients and providing shelter for the victims. However, little is being done by the government and local NGO’s to educate the general population about transmission modes of the disease, making diagnosis of the disease more available or informing the public about the preventative techniques. This lack of understanding has not only led to a rapid increase of the disease but has also created a general atmosphere of fear throughout the continent.