Since the discovery of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) in 1983 – the virus responsible for the Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) – much research and activity has been undertaken to halt the propagation of the disease, for which there does not yet exist a cure. In view of the three known methods of HIV transmission (notably: sexual, blood, and mother to child transmission), various strategies have been put in place at the global level – and relayed to governments at the national level – in order to fight against the disease. In this vein, a branch of the United Nations, UNAIDS, was especially created to confront the threats that the pandemic poses for sustainable development around the world, and particularly in the countries of Africa and Latin America. Africa is the continent most affected, with 28.5 million infected at the end of 2001.
Campaigns raising awareness, educating, providing information, and promoting voluntary testing are the most often-used methods to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS. Unfortunately, these campaigns have largely failed to achieve targeted results.
In the case of Cameroon, the prevalence rate rose from 0.5 percent in 1987 to 11.0 percent in 2002 in urban areas. In rural zones, the prevalence rate was 5 percent in 2001. HIV-positivity is therefore higher in urban than in rural zones, despite the awareness, education and training efforts that have been put in place in the cities. Throughout Cameroon, women and children are the most seriously affected.