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“The two things Africa needs most are clean blood and clean water.” — Dan Haseltine
AIDS is caused by the HIV virus, which is carried in the blood. On this most basic level, clean blood represents blood free from HIV. At this point treatment does not exist that can remove the HIV virus entirely, but there are medications that can help people live fuller, healthier lives, and can reduce the risk of transmitting the disease to others. Medical treatment is also critical to helping people with AIDS avoid and recover from opportunistic diseases that take advantage of immune systems weakened by HIV.
Eradicating AIDS requires treating people who have the disease, educating people about the disease and helping people develop the tools to act on what they know. Community-based education about how the virus is transmitted and how to avoid getting HIV is critical to this effort. However, in many cases knowledge is not enough. AIDS has become a disease of poverty because poverty constrains people’s ability to act on what they know about AIDS. Many poor women do not have the power in their relationships to practice safe monogamous sex or abstinence. In some places cultural practices fostered by poverty have exacerbated the transmission of HIV. Communities must take ownership of their own development in order to work toward cultures of education and good health. This ownership can take place through empowering partnerships that also address the underlying problems of poverty and structural inequalities. ...