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While sub-Saharan Africa contains only 10% of the world's population, about two-thirds of all HIV/AIDS cases originate here; it is truly a problem of epidemic proportions. The impact of HIV/AIDS in Africa is felt throughout everyday life in this region, and if they're not stricken with it themselves, nearly everyone either knows or is related to someone suffering from the disease. Antiretroviral treatments are slow in coming to this region, but they have been trickling in, but slightly less than half of all Africans who need this treatment are actually getting it. As the numbers of HIV cases rises, the toll it puts on the already fragile health care systems in African countries is monumental.The shortage of beds in overcrowded African hospitals has limited their access to HIV patients. In many cases, hospitals are only taking those with advanced cases of AIDS; however, these people are the ones with the lowest chances of recovery. As a result of the increased workload, many health care professionals in sub-Saharan Africa have left, while others have been infected themselves. In fact, Botswana lost nearly a fifth (17%) of its health care workforce to AIDS between 1999 and 2005. Those who have the ability to leave inevitably will leave.The household impact of HIV/AIDS in Africa is just as bad. As parents progress with the disease, their children are taken to relatives or friends for upbringing; however, it's very likely that someone in these households has the disease as well. In Botswana, it is likely that every income earner will take on an additional dependent in the next decade as a result of AIDS in the family. In families with no income earners, desperation causes people to do things they wouldn't normally do. Children will drop out of school in order to work and women may turn to prostitution in order to generate income. This is even more dangerous because it increases the likelihood that HIV will continue to spread.The impact of HIV/AIDS in Africa is also felt in other areas like food production, which shrinks the workforce due to sickness. Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe are all projected to see a 20% or more reduction in the available agricultural workforce due to HIV. The diminished workforce means that those who had little to begin with now have nothing, and those who had nothing are living in extreme poverty. If they're not sick themselves, people are taking care of sick family members; this leaves the fields empty with no one to work in them. HIV touches so many lives in sub-Saharan Africa, and the outlook doesn't look like it's improving very much in the meantime.
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