AIDS AND POVERTY: A Deadly combination

AIDS is the worst health problem facing the world today, with as many as 40 million people infected. Sixty percent of these people live in the poverty-stricken countries of sub-Saharan Africa, where HIV is spread mainly through heterosexual intercourse, rape (South Africa has the highest child rape rate in the world), and from mothers to their babies. AIDS strikes predominantly at the sexually active, who are also the main providers of food, income, and care.

By 2006, more than 12 million African children had lost at least one parent to AIDS. These orphans are four times more likely to contract HIV in their teens. They are less likely to be enrolled in school, and more likely to fall behind if they are enrolled. Indeed, less than half of all South African children who start first grade will graduate high school, leading to a youth unemployment rate of 75%.

Although South Africa is only the world’s 49th most populous nation, it is home to more HIV+ people than any country in the world. HIV prevalence stands at 20% nationwide; in the province of KwaZulu Natal, where Key of Hope is based, the figure is 40%, making it the epicenter of the global AIDS pandemic.

AIDS is only one piece of a myriad of challenges facing South Africa. Even though the institutionalized practice of segregation through apartheid ended in 1994, racism is not absent from South African society. The separation of peoples has led to the greatest disparity of wealth in the world and the highest number of welfare dependents per tax payer in the world. In fact, 10.7% of the population are living on less than $1.25 per day and 36.4% are living below the $2.50 per day poverty line.

The extreme poverty in South Africa also factors into the tremendous crime rate. Violent crimes, including rape and murder, routinely occur. Muggings, armed assaults, theft, and carjackings a rampant as well. South Africa is considered the crime capital of the world.

The dire environment, as well as God’s distinct calling, compelled us to take action—read our story here.