AIDS Epidemic

HIV/AIDS was first diagnosed in Tanzania in 1983, but not really accepted as a problem until 1999. A million Tanzanians have been recorded to have lost their lives to AIDS.
AIDS is one of the primary causes of poverty in Tanzania. By infecting the sexually active proportion of the population, it also have the biggest negative economic impact by elimination the providers.
Unfortunately, the traditional culture of the family to take responsibility for the care of the sick, has meant that as the frequency of the illness increases the more of a financial burden upon the victom's relatives it becomes until a point where they are bankrupted and the victim dies.
There are no accurate figures, but in 2001 it was estimated that 30% of the population of Mufindi District was infected with HIV/AIDS.
The spread of the disease is exacerbated by pregnant women passing the infection on to their unborn children. Without medical intervention as many as 45% of the babies born to infected mothers will be infected themselves. This can be reduced by using formula milk rather than breast feeding, but this is both expensive and stigmatized.

The AIDS epidemic is leaving a nation with the very old and very young and few of economically active age.

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