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13 Factors that Contribute to the Spread of HIV/AIDS in the Developing World

Updated on March 7, 2017
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Januaris is a socio-economic researcher, and researches on societies and social processes. He loves to write about diseases and conflicts.

Case Study: Kenya

The developing countries have the highest number of HIV/AIDS infections in the world. Approximately, 32 million people in these countries are living with the virus.

The worst hit regions include Sub-Saharan Africa, Caribbean and South-East Asia. The countries with the highest HIV prevalence rates and the largest number of HIV-positive people in these regions include: South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Swaziland, Lesotho, Botswana, Zambia, Uganda, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Bahamas, Belize, Jamaica, Haiti, India, Thailand, Nepal, Myanmar, Indonesia and Malaysia.

The spread of the virus declined from 15% in 1990 to around 8% in 2015, but more than 6 million new infections occur every year in these countries. So what are the factors that affect or fuel HIV/AIDS epidemic in the Third World? Well, see them below. They include socio-cultural, behavioral, economic, political and religious factors.

hiv/aids epidemic in the third world
hiv/aids epidemic in the third world | Source

In brief, what factors contribute to the spread of HIV/AIDS in developing countries? Well, they include:

1. Promiscuity

2. Ignorance

3. Illiteracy

4. Poverty

5. Drug & alcohol use

6. HIV/AIDS stigma

7. Cultural factors

8. Lack of access to maternal services

9. Homosexuality

10. Sexual violence

11. Tribal conflicts

12. Immigration & movement of people

13. Beliefs & myths

1. Promiscuity

Promiscuity is now the leading cause of the spread of HIV in the developing regions. Many people in these regions are having more than one sexual partner, and prostitution is common in the same regions.

Promiscuity is being practiced by both young adults and married people. A big number of people in relationships are engaging in infidelity behaviors without caring about the consequences. Surprising studies show that more than 60% of new infections are occuring in married people.

2. Ignorance

Most people living in these regions are fully aware of the disease, but they continue to get involved in practices that cause its transmission. This is ignorance, and it is adversely driving the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the whole world, not just the developing one.

Recently, an international media house reported that many Africans don't care about protecting themselves from the infection. HIV transmission can be prevented by condom, but some people don't seem to use it even when meeting total strangers.

3. Illiteracy

The Third World countries have a large percentage of people who do not know about the existence of HIV/AIDS. These countries also have a lot of people who know the sickness exists, but lack information about its aspects.

Illiterate people don’t know anything about the disease's transmission ways and preventative measures, and they continue to engage in unsafe practices that fuel the epidemic.

Love, Money, and HIV: Becoming a Modern African Woman in the Age of AIDS
Love, Money, and HIV: Becoming a Modern African Woman in the Age of AIDS

This is a book that explains the HIV/AIDS situation in Africa. It is compiled by top medics and therefore it is quite helpful. I encourage you to check it out.


4. Poverty

The developing world has a large population of people living in poverty. Most poor people are always ready to do anything to earn a living, including engaging in sexual activities which are quite high-risk.

There have been many cases of children getting involved in commercial sex in these countries. This activity has been studied to increase the disease prevalence tremendously. Poor people also have limited access to education which means that illiteracy and ignorance is common among them.

5. Drug and Alcohol Use

The drug and alcohol use is common among the youth in the developing regions. According to studies, there have been consistent new HIV infections resulting from sharing of injectors among the drug users in these regions.

There are also other ways in which alcoholism and drug use affect the spread of the disease in these countries. For example, the alcohol users are finding themselves not being able to make wise decisions when getting involved in sexual activities. On the other hand, people who are addicted to drugs are turning to careless sexual behaviors to relieve pain and stress caused by the addiction.

6. HIV/AIDS Stigma

People living with the virus are still stigmatized in the developing world, and this is causing many people to avoid HIV testing. Those who manage to get tested don't come out to reveal their status if they are positive, and they also find it difficult to get the antiretroviral drugs or to use them in the presence of other people.

Most people who do not know their statuses continue to get involved in high risk behaviors and activities. Those who are infected and not using the drugs spread the virus more easily compared to the ones who are using them.

7. Cultural Factors

The most common cultural factors fueling the spread of HIV/AIDS in the developing world include: polygamy, FGM and wife inheritance. These traditional practices are rampant in Africa.

In the case of polygamy, if one partner is infected, he or she spreads the virus to all other partners.

FGM is the cutting off part of the female private organ. In other terms, it is female abscission, and is done by illiterate women to a group of girls at once. So if one of them has the virus, the others get infected during the processs.

Wife inheritance is the adoption of a window by relatives of her deceased husband. In this cultural practice, HIV spreading happens when an HIV-free inheritor adopts an infected window whose husband died of the disease.

new disaster declared
new disaster declared | Source

8. Lack of Access to Maternity Services

The developing countries lack enough maternity services for all their pregnant women. Most women in the remote areas bear children without the help of trained healthcare officers.

Those who are sick do not find places to get advice on how to keep their newborns free from the virus. So there are usually many cases of mother-to-child HIV transmission in places with scarce maternity services in these countries.

9. Homosexuality

Homosexuality is a new sexual practice in the Third World, but it is gaining popularity at an amazing rate. Being new in these underdeveloped countries, most men lack information about it. Some think that it is a risk-free way to engage in sexual activities.

But the truth is that homosexuality is worse than heterosexuality in terms of the virus transmission. This is evidenced by the high HIV prevalence rates among gay men in America. So homosexuality is a top factor fueling the spread of the disease in these regions.

10. Sexual Violence

Sexual violence is not an uncommon thing in the underdeveloped regions of the world. Thousands of cases of this heinous crime are reported daily in these regions. Rape is the most common sexual crime and it affects both males and females.

Most people who commit this crime are usually sick, and their major intention is always to spread the virus. Some victims are guided by deceptive beliefs to rape infants. For example, some believe that they can be cured of HIV/AIDS if they sleep with young children.

11. Tribal Conflicts and Civil Wars

The Third World has been going through tribal conflicts and civil wars for a long time. A notable conflict is the post-election violence which leaves many people displaced from their homes and seeking refuge.

The areas hit by these conflicts and wars do not have enough health care services to cater for the HIV/AIDS victims. These areas also do not get enough disease awareness programs and VCT services.

Most people affected by the conflicts and wars live in refugee camps. These camps are home to all sorts of evil, including drug abuse and prostitution which fuel the epidemic.

12. Immigration and Movement of People

First, HIV/AIDS was introduced in most of these developing regions by people from other countries (i.e., the developed ones). And even today, there is a big number of new infections that are caused by immigrants.

Second, the movement of people within these regions has been increasing the spread of the illness. Infected people spread the virus when they move to work or study in areas that are free from the disease. This is the reason for high prevalence rates in urban centers that are located along the major highways.

13. Beliefs and Myths

Some religious groups found in the Third World have misleading beliefs that greatly influence the spread of the virus. There are also non-religious groups that agree with the common myths about the disease. According to research, it is illiteracy and ignorance that cause these groups of people to agree with these beliefs and myths.

That said, it could be easier to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS in the developing countries. If people can avoid promiscuous behaviors and become wiser, these countries can have very low or zero prevalence rates. The governments have roles to play. They needs to provide better healthcare to people living with the virus and enhance the ailment awareness. In simple terms, everyone has a role to play in fighting this epidemic, including those living in HIV-free regions.

let's all fight
let's all fight | Source


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What do you think are the best ways to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS in the Third World?

See results

© 2015 Januaris Saint Fores


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      Luthando 2 weeks ago

      hello...what factors that contribute to Hiv/Aids

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      Ebba 8 weeks ago

      Wow.... I got all what I was looking for.

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      escar 8 weeks ago

      thanks alot