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“The only thing necessary for these diseases to the triumph is for good people and governments to do nothing.”


Speaker says AIDS, HIV affect young women in Saharan Africa

Published on Wednesday, February 13, 2002

Jamie Barrett

Kansas State Collegian
Young women are affected the most by HIV and AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa, Karen Stanecki of the U.S. Census Bureau told K-State students and faculty Tuesday afternoon.

Stanecki gave her lecture, "HIV/AIDS in Africa: How Changing Demographics are Affecting Women and Youth" as a part of the Donald J. Adamchak Distinguished Lecture Series in the K-State Student Union Little Theater. Scott Velasquez, graduate student in sociology, said Stanecki was chosen to give a presentation because one goal of the lecture series is to bring expert speakers to K-State.

"Beyond a doubt, we achieved that goal this year with Karen Stanecki," Velasquez said. "She is considered to be one of the top experts on AIDS in Africa."


Women and youth are the most affected by the AIDS epidemic in South Africa and other southern African countries, Stanecki said.

"Twenty-eight million of the current 40 million people living with HIV and AIDS live in sub-Saharan Africa," Stanecki said. "Over the past two decades, over 16 million Africans have died from HIV and AIDS."

Stanecki said the amount of infections in South Africa began later than in other African countries, but now South Africa has the most amount of people infected in the world.

"In the early 1990's, the rates were low," Stanecki said. "The prevalence took off in 1993."

Stanecki said studies have shown that young women are becoming infected with HIV and AIDS before marriage. She said young women who have sex with older men before they are married are infecting their partners when they get married.

"For the longest time, it was thought that the greatest risk factor was marriage," Stanecki said, "that women were getting infected by their partners when they entered into marriage. Women, in fact, were becoming sexual before marriage. Younger women were with much older men and there were age differences with sexual partnership."

Stanecki said young women are more susceptible to the HIV and AIDS virus because their organs are more vulnerable. Like how young girls have more complications with pregnancy, young girls' sexual organs have not matured yet, Stanecki said.

HIV and AIDS in Africa also has had a significant impact on youth and children, Stanecki said. She said that by the year 2010, 80 percent of child deaths will be because of HIV and AIDS.

"It is the number one cause of death in sub-Saharan Africa," Stanecki said.

The growing number of orphans is also another problem, she said. By the year 2010, there will be three times as many orphans as there were in 1990.

"How are they, as a society, supposed to bring up children with all the adults dying of AIDS?" Stanecki said.


Stanecki said some of the ways the South African government and other countries have been trying to combat the problem is by having youth donate blood, but the policies and systems are not always consistent.

"They feel there is less prevalence of the disease among young people," she said. "We keep hoping that South Africa will have a breakthrough."

Mariah Lovgren, freshman in pre-medicine, said the lecture helped her to realize that she should be concerned with the problems of other countries as well as our own.

"We have to be aware of other countries," Lovgren said. "What happens there affects us, too. We can't be oblivious to the problems of others."

Stanecki said the question of who will take care of future generations arises when there are so many people dying from this disease.

"When we are losing so many people, who will be there to train the younger generations coming up? Who will educate the future generations?" she said. "We don't know who will help those younger generations."