Leading Cause of Death in Africa

Women and children of the Samburu tribe of Kenya.

The leading cause of death in Africa is HIV/AIDS, followed closely behind by malaria. Even though this disease is completely preventable, the people who live in Africa are suffering due to lack of education about it and the social and cultural constraints that women living there face.

Why the Leading Cause of Death in Africa is HIV/AIDS

There are many social and cultural issues that face the women in Africa. Young women are often married to older men who have been infected with the virus. Infected women can spread the disease to their unborn children.

Africa in general is a place of political unrest. In times of civil wars, men often abuse the women who fall under their power. Unwanted sexual contact and pregnancies are often the result of villages overtaken by those engaged in war.

Men in Africa frequent prostitutes, which is where many of the men become infected. If the men were educated about the disease and had access to condoms, much of the spread of the disease could be stopped.


HIV/AIDS is a spread in a variety of ways. The primary way that it is spread in Africa is through sexual contact. The disease can also be spread by blood transfusions and from using syringe needles that an infected person has used.

The spread of this leading cause of death in Africa can be directly attributed to the lack of education about the disease. Very little of the government's money is used on health education, and it has therefore been left largely to the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the United Nations and other agencies that serve the poor in Africa to educate the masses. Even with proper education about the spread of the disease, few people have access to proper health care and condoms.

A Growing Number of Victims

The largest growing segment of the population of HIV/AIDS victims is children. Children fall victim in two ways: Most acquire the disease through being born, and those who aren't born with the virus are left to care for their dying family members. They lose their childhood, are unable to finish their education and many starve to death. According to the Center for Disease Control, children under the age of 5 are likely to perish if their mothers have died from the disease.

What can be Done

The cost of drugs is one of the main concerns of those trying to deal with this pandemic in Africa. The African government is unable to meet the costs of purchasing much-needed drugs for its citizens. This is due in part to the largest segment of the adult population dying during their most productive years. The life expectancy of those living in this country is 37 to 40 years of age. The economy, which is largely agricultural, has therefore suffered and has been unable to recover.

Humanitarian aid is largely responsible for trying to stem the spread of this disease in Africa and to other surrounding countries. Allocation of funds for medicine, prophylactics and education has become the burden of the international community.

Unfortunately, there is still no known cure for this deadly disease which attacks the immune system. Until a cure can be found, education is the best weapon for fighting the HIV/AIDS virus.

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Leading Cause of Death in Africa