AIDS Control Policies in Australia and South Africa

Introduction

The acronym AIDS refers to Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. The term AIDS was adopted in 1982 to describe a condition in which the body develops low immunity levels on acquiring HIV (short form for human immunodeficiency virus). According to Carr, quoted by Timewell, Minichiello, and Plummer (1992), AIDS is identified as a global problem, which calls for nations to adopt measures to curb its effects on the population.

The effects of HIV on impairment of the immune system on the human body are experienced within a period of between 3 and seven years upon acquiring the virus (Raper & Aldridge, 1988; Webb, 1997). In the US, cases of HIV were first identified in 1979 and 1981 among homosexuals. It later spread through the world at a very high rate (Commonwealth of Australia, 1989).

The high spread rate was accounted for by the incapacity to control the spreading of the new epidemic, which threatened the survival of human populations. Realization of the fact that HIV and AIDS posed a major challenge to nations, many countries initiated a nationwide campaign to create awareness together with efforts to control the spreading of the epidemic. The paper aims at investigating four main HIV and AIDS policies adopted in South Africa and Australia.

These are the use of condoms, nutrition policies, privacy policies, and policies relating to needle sharing. It then progresses to make a comparison, evaluation and contrasting of the various factors, which influence the process of implementation of policies in Australia and South Africa. In the last section, considerations are given to discuss the collective approach to the management of HIV and AIDS as opposed to an individualistic approach.

HIV and AIDS cases in Australia and South Africa

HIV and AIDS cases in Australia began to be recorded in the year 1982. The first case was identified among homosexuals who were believed to have had sexual relationships with the US gays. According to Timewell, Minichiello, and Plummer (1992), in Australia, the gay community took the greatest responsibility for having contributed to the rapid spread of HIV.

Comparatively, South Africa recorded the first case of HIV in 1982 (Webb, 1997), which is also the year it was recorded first in Australia. Cognition of the capacity of HIV to spread uncontrollably by both Australia and South Africa resulted in the adoption of various policies to help in curbing the epidemic.

HIV and AIDS Policies

Condoms Policies

Australia and South Africa employ the use of condoms as an effective strategy for preventing the spread of HIV and AIDS. According to the Commonwealth of Australia (1988), condoms help in the prevention of the spread of HIV and AIDS by preventing any direct contact of bodily fluids when people are having sexual intercourse.

The government of Australia encourages its people to use condoms by creating policies, which ensure ease of their availability together with their promotion. Commonwealth of Australia (1988) outlines these policies as the removal of promotional restrictions and policies that encourage free and open selling of condoms. To ensure that the right quality condoms reach the target population, the government of Australia places a requirement that all manufacturers must have the dates of expiry of their products marked.

The restriction is also put on condoms, which are discovered by the government as having a low quality (Commonwealth of Australia, 1988). In Australia, the responsibility to communicate the right usage of condoms falls on their manufacturers through the provision of appropriate guidelines indicated on the means of condom packaging (Commonwealth of Australia, 1988).

Similar to the Australian approaches to augment condom use among its citizens, South Africa also considered government-sponsored campaigns as effective ways of encouraging people to avoid unprotected sexual contact. Statistical findings provided by Abdool Karim and Abdool Karim (2010) show that, in South Africa, young men lead in receiving government calls positively for the use of condoms since 87.4 percent of them use condoms.

Young women follow at distant 75 percent. Amid the big differences in these statistical figures, it is possible that campaigns on the use of condoms are received positively in South Africa. This success is correlated directly to the adequate availability of information on the correct usage of condoms and the ease of their accessibility to both women and men.

In South Africa, condoms are provided at health centers as well as HIV and AIDS counseling centers (Abdool Karim & Abdool Karim, 2010). They are also available in places of public gatherings. Apart from government involvement in the process of distribution of condoms, NGOs play proactive roles in their distribution via initiatives such as social marketing. People are also authorized to sell condoms through local store establishments.

In South Africa, commercial ads are pivotal in helping to spread information on the right use of condoms to the public. This information is aimed at creating knowledge and awareness to the public (Abdool Karim & Abdool Karim, 2010). South Africa distributed about 270 million condoms between 2001 and 2002.

This figure rose to 380 million between 2006 and 2007. This strategy had the effect of reducing the spread of HIV and AIDS in significant proportions in South Africa (Abdool Karim & Abdool Karim, 2010). Consequently, South Africa and Australia have taken proactive steps in the prevention of the spread of HIV and AIDS through policies encouraging the use of condoms.

Privacy Policies

Given the public reception of HIV and AIDS, privacy is an essential policy for helping to control AIDS. According to Timewell, Minichiello, and Plummer (1992), in case the confidentiality of patients’ information is not enhanced, discrimination and segregation of patients by other people will result. However, in Australia, health professionals, together with government staff, have direct access to the information of patients.

This challenge is due to the weakness of the HIV afflicted people’s privacy law. The state of South Wales authenticated a law facilitating HIV positive people’s information to be disclosed to healthcare providers (Timewell, Minichiello & Plummer, 1992). Although this disclosure is necessary for healthcare purposes in the effort to enhance good management of the health conditions of patients, assurance is not if such confidential information would not be exposed to the public (Timewell, Minichiello & Plummer, 1992).

In South Africa, people are also worried about the confidentiality of their HIV status to the public in fear of discrimination. Unfortunately, healthcare staffs are neither worried nor concerned about the implication of breaching their professional, ethical mandate of holding patients’ information confidential (Kauffman & Lindauer, 2004).

For example, in Galeshewe clinic, nurses charged with counseling in issues related to contraceptives engage people in debates openly without privacy before progressing to pick condom from dispensers that are not located in private areas. The clinic’s dispensers for condoms are located at customer waiting areas. Comfort and uneasiness associated with this location deter people from freely having access to condoms at a healthcare center (Kauffman & Lindauer, 2004).

The above arguments evidence immense privacy gaps in South Africa and Australia in the approaches of management of HIV and AIDS (Grmek, 1990). Consequently, in the effort to manage effectively the stigma associated with HIV and AIDS, strategic efforts should be made to put in place policies, which promote and protect the privacy of HIV positive people’s information.

Nutritional Policies

Nutritional polices are deployed in both nations. According to the Commonwealth of Australia (1988), good nutrition is a major milestone in enhancing better quality life among people inflicted with HIV and AIDS.

It delays the progression of people to full-blown conditions of AIDS. Proper nutrition is also helpful in curbing the loss of weight (Timewell, Minichiello & Plummer, 1992; Walraven, 2011). Hence, healthcare facilities in Australia offer protein-rich diets to people afflicted by AIDS (Timewell, Minichiello & Plummer, 1992; Commonwealth of Australia, 1988).

In the case of South Africa, nutritional care services are established to ensure that appropriate nutritional counseling is offered to AIDS’ patients (Oketch, Paterson, Maunder & Rollins, 2005). The importance of this counseling is based on the findings that good nutrition is essential in helping to boost the immune system of a patient (Commonwealth of Australia, 1988; Abdool Karim & Abdool Karim, 2010; Sahn, 2010).

Needle Sharing Policies

Differences exist in the use of needle sharing policies in South Africa and Australia. Australia enacts needle-sharing policies by initiating programs to create awareness among drug users that such a practice increases probabilities of contracting HIV. In this effort, drug users are engaged in service networks aimed at educating them on the usage of needles together with safe ways of syringes and needle disposal (Commonwealth of Australia, 1989; Timewell, Minichiello & Plummer, 1992).

Programs are also initiated to curtail discrimination of drug users in the effort to ensure that they can easily have access to needles. In the programs, information is also shared with drug users about the risks of contracting blood-borne ailments, including hepatitis (Commonwealth of Australia, 1989; Abdool Karim & Abdool Karim, 2010).

Effectiveness of needle sharing policies is evidenced by the state of South Wales in Australia, which distributed about 2 million needles every year (Timewell, Minichiello & Plummer, 1992). In Australia, programs for needle sharing (NSEP) and pharmacies are the only authorized channels for distributing needles (Timewell, Minichiello & Plummer, 1992). The main challenge is that setting up a needle distribution channel takes a long time. For instance, in the state of Victoria, setting an NSEP takes 4 or 5 months.

Compared to Australia, South Africa permits drug paraphernalia to flow freely. This results in enhancing the capacity of the needles sharing program to serve many people using drugs. Hence, an opportunity exists for drug users to learn about the dangers of sharing needles.

Organizations in the private sector, together with NGOs, enhance logistical supplies of needles within areas where drug users are situated. Compared to Australia, South Africa provides a better benchmark of how needle-sharing policies are used to manage HIV and AIDS.

Comparing and contrasting the factors affecting the implementation of HIV and AIDS policies in Australia and South Africa

Comparing South Africa and Australia, Australia has successfully implemented policies, which manage AIDS based on the evident constant reduction in the number of HIV and AIDS diagnosis. While 954 cases were diagnosed as at 1992, only 144 cases were diagnosed as at 2001.

This was an 85-percent decline between 1992 and 2001 (McDonald, Li, Dore, Ree & Kaldor, 2003). Between the same periods, South Africa experienced an increase in the number of diagnosed cases of HIV standing at 75 percent. By 1992, 1.3 million AIDS cases were diagnosed. This number rose to 4.3 million by 2001 (Nyabadza, Mukandavire & Hove-Musekwa, 2011).

In both Australia and South Africa, political and economic factors affect the implementation of HIV and AIDS control policies. Cited by Kauffman and Lindauer (2004), Marais (2000) argues that lack of good program implementation structures accounts for poor implementation of HIV and AIDS management policies in South Africa.

The implementation of policies for the management of HIV and AIDS came when South African political systems were on the transition stage into democracy. The government also took central roles in funding programs for management of HIV and AIDS, thus denying donors the opportunity to play the primary roles. The impact was low funding of the programs (Kauffman & Lindauer, 2004).

Australia began to implement HIV and AIDS management programs while having stable political systems. NGOs were also given safe playing grounds in the control and management of HIV and AIDS. The states provided supervision and oversight roles, coupled with ensuring success in the implementation of various national strategies to curb the epidemic. To enhance these roles, the Commonwealth provided funds to the Australian states (Timewell, Minichiello & Plummer, 1992).

For example, in 1984, the Commonwealth provided $5 million as a starting fund for management of the HIV epidemic (Commonwealth of Australia, 1988). Depending on the cases registered by different states, more funds were provided. Effective collaboration with stakeholders was a major factor contributing to the success of Australia in the management of HIV and AIDS.

Collective and individualistic approach to the management of HIV and AIDS

Discussion in the previous section evidence that effective management of HIV and AIDS required a collective as opposed to an individualistic approach. This approach requires political goodwill and operation of stakeholders in a stable political and economic environment.

This inference is supported by the hardships showcased by South Africa in the implementation of HIV and AIDS management policies. Australia provides a good benchmark for a collective approach to the implementation of HIV and AIDS prevention and control policies.

Conclusion

South Africa and Australia implemented policies on the use of condoms to curb HIV and AIDS. NGOs and government in both nations played a central role in ensuring that condoms distributed were of high quality. Nutritional policies in the two nations are also similar in many aspects, including an emphasis on the necessity of proteins to help in the prevention of progression into a full-blown condition of AIDS.

The paper also argued that South Africa does not have restrictions on the distribution of needles, hence having the capacity to implement needle-sharing policies compared to Australia. In overall, Australia managed to implement HIV and AIDS management policies better than South Africa since it adopted collective as opposed to individualistic approaches to HIV and AIDS prevention programs besides having stable political systems and a better economic capability.

The paper recommends the deployment of global HIV and AIDS management strategy as opposed to the individualistic approach in the effort to manage the pandemic of HIV and AIDS. This strategy would perhaps encourage South Africa to seek financial aid and experiences in the management of HIV and AIDS from Australia.

Reference List

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