Political science professor offers insight on African AIDS epidemic

By Lia Ferrante
January 23, 2013

HIV/AIDS is an epidemic that is a major issue in Africa and many people remain unaware of how much it devastates its people. Dr. Shelby Hockenberry, assistant professor in the history and political science department, had a lot of insight on this issue because she does a lot of research on international development issues and teaches numerous international courses here at Cabrini College.

She became interested in this issue because when she was beginning graduate school she was doing research specifically on partnerships and policy partnerships and how they work, partnering with states, countries, and their government and private organizations, foundations and corporations and how they can work together to impact these global policy issues. HIV was one of the biggest issues that she became the most interested in and has been teaching and researching this issue for ten years.

When she was in graduate school, she studied in her Ph.D. program about global governance issues and how HIV/AIDS impacts not only just the government but how it impacts the daily lives of people.

“HIV/AIDs has really been devastating to the continent of Africa and in particular the sub-Saharan in Africa, where just as little as ten years ago some countries had a full quarter or more of their population affected by HIV/AIDs,” Hockenberry said. She explains how poor governance, the long-term effects of colonialism, or the lack of funds, and the climate change destroys this country from this disease.

She had a lot of insight on why Africa is so populated with people who have this disease.

“The European colonists primarily left behind very little infrastructure, very little connectability through roadways and trains and hospitals and communications infrastructure to name but a few. That is the ground problem since the 1950’s primarily because they didn’t leave them with a lot of money. They also left them with not a lot of resources left behind and those resources that were left behind were taken advantage of by dictators that squandered wealth, or hoarded the wealth for themselves and didn’t spend it on their people by building new hospitals, schools and things. Or rebels groups take control of many of these valuable resources, so that has been another problem. Other problems include lack of education,” Hockenberry said.

Hockenberry believes that with basic education, children will have a way out of this disease. Children need to be able to have a primary level of education through at least sixth grade. This will give children the ability to learn a trade that will help their families to be able to contribute to their economy. Just by giving children a basic health class, it can increase their knowledge to help one another.

“They would receive their basic health class that would be helpful that they would learn in school, but there is a lot of research that says that the more you educate girls, the further they go in school the less likely they will be having three or more children and less likely they are attract to HIV/AIDs and less likely to pass it on to their children and to get better medical care,” Hockenberry said.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for HIV/AIDS but with more people being aware of this disease and how to prevent it this country could see a better future for their people. It will allow more children to be able to go to school and be able to receive an education for them to have a better life for themselves and their family.

The headline in an earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Dr. Hockenberry as a history professor. She is a political science professsor. The headline has been updated. Loquitur regrets the error.

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Lia Ferrante

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