An estimated 25 million people in Africa were living with AIDS in 2003 (AIDS and HIV Statistics for Africa). In Botswana alone, the AIDS prevalence rate is an immense 36.5% (HIV and AIDS in Botswana). In Botswana, AIDS has been an ongoing epidemic since the first case reported in 1985 (HIV and AIDS in Botswana). AIDS is caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), which weakens a person's immune system causing them to be more susceptible to infectious diseases such as meningitis, pneumonia, the flu, and many other diseases. Though AIDS does not directly kill people, the infectious diseases will frequently become fatal. AIDS is transmitted through both homosexual and heterosexual intercourse, blood transfusions with HIV positive blood, sharing of infected needles, and HIV positive mothers passing the disease to their children during pregnancy or breastfeeding (Background on AIDS/HIV). There is no current cure for the virus but there are some drugs that are able to slow down the virus' effect on the immune system.
As a start to controlling this epidemic, governments are pouring in money to find out the main causes of the rapid transmission of the HIV virus, and they are also educating the public on risks and facts about AIDS. The AIDS problem in Botswana, as well as many countries in Africa, is clearly due to the people's ignorance and the country's poverty. Ignorance appears to be the predominant cause to the alarming spread of AIDS in Botswana. In a survey of 18 and 19 year olds, it showed that only 15% of them knew of ways to protect themselves (AIDS in Africa). This clearly shows that most of the sexually active young people lack awareness of the risks of not protecting themselves, which causes an increase in the transmission of the virus.