Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2013

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Integrative Physiology

First Advisor

Teresa Foley

Abstract

As of 2013, there are more people infected with Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in sub-Saharan Africa than the rest of the world combine; the vast majority of whom reside in South Africa. The contributions made by a national policy of Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) denialism have been well established, however, misinformation alone does not explain the problem entirely. In 1990, the antiretroviral drug Zidovudine (AZT) was approved for human treatment and shown to be effective in reducing viral loads, thereby reducing the risk of HIV transmission. Despite its proven effectiveness, AZT was prohibited throughout South Africa until 2001, with the notable exception of the Western Cape Province, which made AZT available in 1999. Using a t-test analysis on data presented in the National Antenatal Sentinel HIV and Syphilis Prevalence Survey, South Africa studies from 1998 to 2011, I show that the percentage of HIV infected individuals in the Western Cape Province is statistically lower than South Africa as a whole (P≤0.0001). In addition, ANCOVA and regression analysis show value of 65.33 and 0.935, respectively, indicating a high level of covariance and correlation between the Western Cape Province and national infection percentages. A P≤0.0001 and a high correlation and covariance indicate that even though the infection rates changed similarly (as would be expected within a nation), the actual infection percentages are significantly different. Given that the Western Cape Province was subject to the same propaganda and policies as the rest of South Africa, but differed in the implementation of AZT and has since consistently had the lowest HIV infection rate, it is reasonable to suggest that the early implementation of AZT had a profound effect on infection rate. Had this program been made available nation-wide, it is likely the AIDS epidemic in South Africa would not be a disaster of the same magnitude that it is today.

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