Aids is a disease which was discovered in the early 1980’s and is believed to have originated in Central Africa from a virus that had been existence in certain monkey species for over fifty thousand years. Since its discovery in US in1981, the virus has spread rapidly.
The US Centre for Disease Control (CDC) reported that the number of AIDS victims in US increased to 513,486 by the end of 1995 (Enotes, n.d, Par. 1). This trend continued during the past decade with the number of victims reaching 1.2 million by the end of 2005.
UNAIDS reported that approximately 2.3 million people were living with the virus in Europe by the end of 2008 (Avert, 2010, Par. 1).Eastern Europe was leading in terms of prevalence rates (Avert, 2007, para.1-7). However, recent mechanisms aimed at averting the spread of the virus seem to be bearing fruits. This is evident from the fact that prevalence rates and deaths resulting from HIV/AIDS have dropped in many countries.
It has been observed that social and political ills in the society can be more damaging than the biological ones. Social and political viruses include drugs, alcohol, crime and violence, family decline and environmental issues.
The purpose of the paper is to analyze whether social and political viruses can be more damaging compared to biological viruses.
Drugs and Alcohol Misuse
Drug abuse is defined as misuse of over-the-counter drugs and prescription drugs. It also includes addiction to such substances. Many people use drugs and alcohol as a means of escaping social and personal problems and other responsibilities.
Drug and alcohol abuse leads to an increment in social problems. These include family breakdown, job losses, stress and loss of educational opportunities. Campaigns to educate people on the dangers of drug abuse have failed to address this issue.
Frequently abused drugs include cocaine, heroine and marijuana. Marijuana is the most common drug in US. Approximately two in every five Americans admit to have used it at one time in their life and about 10 percent use it on a regular basis.
Another type of commonly abused drugs includes stimulants and cocaine. Drugs and alcohol have a negative impact on the society as a whole. For example, these substances are a common cause of family breakdowns, domestic violence and crime (Miles, n.d, p. 5).
The National Health Service of UK and the Food and Drugs Administration of US are under budgetary pressures to provide funds for combating this social problem. The cost of drug abuse to US economy is amazing.
Over the past few years, this cost has increased to approximately one trillion dollars per year from 181 billion dollars in 2002 (Office of National Drug Control Policy, 2004, p. 9). This is far more than cost of HIV/AIDS to US economy per year which is approximately at 36.4 million dollars annually. This makes it evident that drug abuse is detrimental to US economy more than biological viruses.
The Decline of the Family
A strong family is vital for a child’s development. This is because it is the basis to which youngsters develop values relating to physical, emotional and social. However, adults and children are today increasingly being faced with the challenges of broken families. Statistics indicate that up to 15 percent of all babies born in UK grow up in the absence of their biological fathers (Lee & Anderson, 2006, p.5).
Family declines are a major cause of social evils in a given community or society. Single-parent children are more likely to have educational problems, drug and alcohol misuse and hence unemployment.
Family decline is characterized by an increase in single parenting, couples choosing to remain childlessness, same-sex marriages and extramarital affairs. Young people are continuously being neglected as parents become involved in other activities, mostly income related. Bad parenting is also failing to impart the required values to young people (Rowntree, 2008, p. 6).
Crime and Violence
Child abuse, violence against women, drug abuse, rape and murder are some of the most common forms of crime committed today. Unfortunately, most of these crimes are commonly undertaken by youth. This is a direct result of bad parenting and poverty.
Deaths resulting from illegal firearms have increased rapidly over the recent years in America (Conway, 1998, p.65). This has been attributed to a variety of factors such as the economy, values and social developments amongst others.
A direct consequence of crime has been a slowdown in the rate of economic growth in areas prone to crime. Crime also undermines democratic rights of citizens. Other effects of crime include fear, stress and suicidal thoughts by the perpetrators of these actions. Report from the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) in the US indicates that almost 23 million households are affected by crime annually and represents a quarter of all homes.
On the economic scale, US Bureau of Justice Statistics reported that the cost of crime to the economy is about 18 billion dollars a year. This cost is exclusive of the legal process fee and the cost of rehabilitation of offenders. These costs should surpass that of HIV/AIDS (Lee & Anderson, 2006, p.5).
A Decline of Values
Besides being a social virus itself, decline in values also provides a breeding ground for the development of other social vices. The basic values that promote co-existence with others such as honesty, tolerance and respect, are losing meaning in the modern society. Intolerance is a social virus which should be urgently addressed. This is frequently seen when people conflict on religious grounds (Conway, 1998, p.35).
Racial and cultural intolerance is also a major source of conflict due to lack of information on the importance of tolerance. Honesty is also a precious value that has been lost; most people attribute the lack of this virtue to the media and the government. Lack of this value in a society may lead to family breakdowns and even extend to decline of the community.
Other values that have been lost by the community yet so important for the well-being of the entire society are empathy and compassion. These values are the cornerstones for a society where people show love for one another. Their absence also leads to the sprouting up other social ills.
Individualism, Consumerism and Community Decline
Individualism is an ideology which focuses on the individual as being himself i.e. not part of a community or society. It stresses on the goals and desires of a person. This ideology could be damaging since it is based on the belief that one can exist in isolation and so not need the rest of the society.
Consumerism is the belief that consumption of products in greater quantities is economically beneficial. Both individualism and consumerism promote greed as they are both centered on an individual rather than the society, leading to the decline of the community. Fear and distrust prevails with decline in the community because the people don’t trust one another.
These two ideologies promote a greed for consumer goods which is in itself evil. It also blinds the community on other’s needs. Extreme application of these ideologies leads to selfish individualism and wasteful consumption in the notion that this is economically productive.
Less integration at community level means that larger issues affecting the civil society are not adequately handled, leading to even more social evils like crime and violence, drug abuse and alcoholism (Watts, n.d, p.1-3)
Poverty and Inequality
Inequality is the imparity in exercise of basic rights and freedoms by an individual, this includes education and work. On the other hand, poverty is the state in which one lacks the means of accessing the primary needs. Statistics from Oxfam indicate that almost 13 million people live in poverty in the UK.
This is almost a fifth of the total population. Less than a sixth of the UK population is HIV positive, thus poverty should be addressed more urgently. It is also known that poverty leads to the spread of the HIV virus, therefore a reduction of the poverty levels will directly lead to a reduction in infection rates. Poverty is seen as a major avenue to other social problems like crime.
Inequality promotes social divisions as the society is categorized into ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ at social places, that is, educational and health institutions.
This is a political virus that has both short and long-term effects on our environment. Several issues affecting the environment have been caused by man and are now manifesting in other forms like global warming. This has resulted into huge investments by governments in an attempt to reverse the situation.
Most of today’s environmental catastrophes such as floods, hurricanes, drought and rise in the ocean levels have been caused by man. Attempts to reverse these damages are too costly. Damage resulting from man’s actions on the environment is both catastrophic and costly.
For example, the damage resulting from Hurricane Katrina which struck the US caused$135 billion damage. It is estimated that the US could well spend over $100 billion by 2030 and $19 trillion by 2100 in order to adapt to the effects of climate change. 2.4 billion. A large number of people were affected by effects of climate change in the last decade. This was a 150 percent rise from the last decade.
The cost of global warming is very high, and it affects many people that it is important to make urgent changes for the sake of the future generations. Environmental issues are more damaging than those of biological viruses like HIV, and must be addressed urgently.
Recent advancements in the field of medicine have led to the development of drugs known as ARVs. A HIV positive individual can now live for up to 24 years. This came as a reprieve to the infected and the affected. There are now fewer deaths as a direct consequence of the infection.
However, there are more pressing or urgent issues that affect the society on a wider scale than HIV as they have been discussed in the paper. These issues either affect more people or have huge implications on a country’s financial budget. It is quite evident that these social viruses are closely related. Emergence of one social issue culminates into another. Therefore the viruses should be addressed with a sense of urgency.
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