mitch & char

mitch & char

Thursday, April 15

What AIDS has done to Swaziland

How blessed we are here in America:

The Kingdom of Swaziland is facing an enormous challenge in preventing and controlling the HIV and AIDS epidemic, which is growing at an alarming rate. This small landlocked country in southern Africa has the highest HIV prevalence rate worldwide. Swaziland not only has the world's highest HIV prevalence rate, it now also has the highest tuberculosis (TB) rate. One in four adults is infected with HIV; by the end of 2007 an estimated 170,000 people were living with HIV, and every year an estimated 13,000 people develop TB, the primary opportunistic disease in HIV-positive people.

The first AIDS case was officially reported in 1986 and since then the number of AIDS cases has increased every year. HIV infection levels among pregnant women attending selected maternal clinics increased rapidly from 3.9% in 1992 to 42.3% in 2004. This AIDS epidemic is characterized by increased morbidity and mortality as well as an increased number of orphans. The demand for health services has increased, surpassing the resource capacity for health care. Life expectancy has declined from the age of 55 in the late '80s to about 32 years currently, which is among the lowest in the world. As of 2004, the number of orphans was estimated at 69,000 children. This number is projected to increase to 120,000 this year. The Swazi tradition of polygamy is one of the reasons for the continuing spread of the disease. Swazi men currently have multiple sexual partners. Swazi women do not have the right to demand the use of condoms by their spouses.

The population of Swaziland is becoming an hour glass with the middle generation almost totally disappearing. Grandparents have been left with trying to care for numerous grandchildren and unable to provide the food, clothing and school fees needed. 80% of children who have not been tested and treated for HIV will die by the age of 10. Most girls will not reach young adulthood without being sexually abused or given to men by family in order to earn food or plowing of fields. Young boys left without supervision join gangs where smoking, drinking and sexual activity are encouraged and theft is promoted.

-The amazing thing to me is that AIDS is not the virus that is killing Swaziland... Hopelessness is the virus that is killing Swaziland! We DO have a cure for that, and His name is Jesus.

Mitch and Charlotte Hildebrant
Missionaries to Swaziland Africa
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