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Women have been heavily impacted by AIDS throughout Africa. For this woman with AIDS in Kenya (right), poverty makes access to adequate health care all but impossible and day-to-day survival difficult.

European culture and language have continued to influence the postcolonial period of these countries, which have remained divided along religious, tribal, and educational lines. During the pre-independence era, basic infrastructure and social services including health care were established. However, the health care delivery system was mainly curative, with limited programs focusing on prevention. Although preventive programs have been initiated, these continue to lag behind because of inadequate funding and a lack of focus. Consequently, the emergence of AIDS, which required strong preventive programs, has presented a challenge to the health sector.