Factors Contributing To The Spread Of HIV /AIDS In Africa

spread of hiv/aids in Africa

According to the World Health Organization, developing countries still have the highest number of HIV/AIDS infections. Despite increased awareness and numerous sensitization campaigns, HIV transmission rates and prevalence still remains high in African countries slowing down the progress of the fight against the disease. There is no doubt, the outlook of HIV/AIDS has changed drastically in the last couple of years considering increased life expectancy thanks to factors such as easier access to drugs. However, it is still a cause for concern in Africa when despite all the efforts from governments, non-governmental organizations, donors and the private sector, HIV/AIDS still remains a scourge in the continent.

To understand why HIV/AIDS still remains an epidemic in Africa, we need to examine the factors that are contributing to the spread of the disease.


Even though a majority of the population knows about HIV/AIDS, people ignorantly continue to participate in activities and practices that encourage transmission. Recent studies have shown many Africans simply ignore simple measures such as protecting themselves during intercourse knowing too well the consequences that come with unprotected sex.

2Multiple Partners

This is a known major cause of HIV across the globe but Africa has its share of challenges as many individuals have more than one sexual partner. Prostitution is rife in the continent and people don’t take issues to do with infidelity seriously.

3Cultural Practices

Africa is known across to be the bedrock of rich culture. However, some cultural practices continue to promote the spread of HIV across the continent. Polygamy, wife inheritance and FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) have been blamed for fuelling the spread of HIV/AIDS especially among populations in rural Africa where these practices are held in high esteem.

4Poor Access to Maternal Services

Women especially in rural Africa lack proper access to maternal services which forces them to bear children at home without help and supervision from qualified medical transmission. As a result of this, many cases of mother-to-child HIV transmission have been reported as HIV expectant women have no idea what they need to do to prevent passing on the virus to their unborn child.


Illiteracy levels are still high in Africa with some people still having no idea how HIV/AIDS is transmitted. Even though many are aware, they lack knowledge about both transmission and prevention leading them to engage in risky behavior that exposes them to the virus. Myths, beliefs and misconceptions about HIV/AIDS are easily believed by illiterate people.

6HIV/AIDS Stigma

In Africa, the stigma associated with HIV still remains high and for this reason, many people do not go for HIV testing for fear of their status being known by the community. Stigma also causes many to avoid taking ARV drugs in the presence of others to avoid being discovered they have HIV/AIDS. Because of this, the virus continues to spread.


Developing countries in Africa still have significant sections of the population that live below the poverty line. Poor people are often forced to do anything to earn a living including engaging in unprotected sex exposing them to HIV/AIDS.

8Alcohol and Drug Abuse

Drug and alcohol abuse is rampant among the youth in African countries. Sharing of injections among drug users is the most common HIV transmission method. Alcoholics are often unable to make wise decisions pertaining engaging in sexual activities exposing themselves to a myriad of risks.

9Political Conflicts and Wars

Sections of the African population have tribal conflicts and civil wars that hinder healthcare access to individuals with HIV/AIDS. On the other hand, the increasing number of refugees and refugee camps lead to desperation with drug abuse and prostitution cases on the increase.

Unfortunately, the above factors have prevented Africa from successfully dealing with the HIV/AIDS pandemic. This calls for active engagement of all concerned parties to help prevent new infections and educate the masses on how to prevent HIV/AIDS.

Nelly Gachanja
Nelly is a digital marketing professional responsible for managing Africa.com’s social media platforms. During her leisure time, Nelly loves cooking and working on her Kenyan food blog Talkingtonelly.com. She also enjoys catching up with current affairs, updating her African music collection, watching movies, traveling, and spending time with family.