ES.253 | Spring 2005 | Undergraduate

AIDS and Poverty in Africa


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 1 session / week, 2 hours / session


This course, as part of the Experimental Study Group Seminar Series, offers students the opportunity to participate in a small discussion-based class taught by an MIT upperclassman under the guidance of a faculty supervisor. Student Raja Bobbili (B.S. 07 Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, Economics) taught this seminar in cooperation with Dr. Lee Perlman, Lecturer in the Experimental Study Group. Seminars taught in this format are all graded Pass/Fail and receive 1/2 of the academic credit assigned to regular academic classes.


This is a discussion-based interactive seminar on the two major issues that affect Sub-Saharan Africa: HIV/AIDS and Poverty. AIDS and Poverty, seemingly different concepts, are more inter-related to each other in Africa, than in any other continent. As MIT students, we feel it is important to engage ourselves in a dynamic discussion on the relation between the two, how to fight one and how to solve the other.

Background and Motivation

In developing countries across the world, 1.2 billion people earn less than $1 a day. 798 million people in the world are undernourished; 842 million live in hunger, the extreme level of poverty. Many more such statistics exist for Poverty; millions of people across the world have been suppressed and confined to the boundaries of poverty. An important consequence of this is the deadly epidemic: HIV/AIDS.

The AIDS epidemic has struck Africa devastatingly; in 2003 alone, 2.9 million people died from HIV/AIDS. AIDS has taken more than 20 million lives and promises to take many more. In Sub-Saharan Africa alone, there are 25 million people living with HIV/AIDS. An infection rate of 7.5% in Sub-Saharan Africa shows the imminent threat that AIDS poses to the world.

Being brought up in Zambia, I have seen poverty and AIDS all around me. I have tried, and mostly failed, to associate with people that live under $1 a day. And I would like to use this seminar as ground for sharing my experiences with people, as well as listening to other people’s views on poverty and HIV/AIDS.

Attendance Policy

Since this a seminar-style class, attendance is very important. The seminar is going to be highly discussion-based, so participation is even more important!

Maximum number of unexcused absences: 2

Your participation in this seminar will be directly related to how well you enjoy the class - so, please attend and participate!

Grading Criteria

  • Attendance (11/13 lessons minimum)
  • Project

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2005
Learning Resource Types
Activity Assignments