An AIDS epidemic is sweeping through the poor of this area. Kwa-Zulu/Natal has the highest HIV infection rate in the world and the Valley of 1000 Hills is probably the epicentre of the world wide AIDS epidemic. Infection rate statistics are hard to come by due to the social stigma of AIDS causing a general attitude of denial. However it appears that the majority of people between 18-35 are HIV positive. According to admission statistics of local hospitals the HIV infection rate of the general population in this area may be well in excess of 40%. Most homes have either experienced deaths due to AIDS or house people who are dying of AIDS. Due to ambiguous government policies concerning HIV/AIDS these mostly poor and uneducated people are confused and misinformed about the cause and treatment of HIV/AIDS. As a result of this epidemic there are more and more AIDS orphans. Homes and outreach to these children is seen as a priority at this time. Hospices are urgently needed for the dying.
Historically the Valley of a thousand Hills area has been a neglected area and long term poverty has taken its toll. It is only recently that communal water, electricity and tarred roads are being provided by the Municipal authorities. Generally the community is still gripped by poverty resulting in high infant mortality, AIDS, unemployment and the break down of family life, which in turn has led to hopelessness especially amongst young people. Unemployment is at least 40%.
There is much superstitions in these communities and many lies have been spread among the poor and relatively uneducated. Some traditional healers and leaders have exacerbated the spread of HIV/ÁIDS by denying that it is linked to sexual behaviour and instead are teaching that AIDS is caused by genetically modified food. In some instances the community believe that AIDS can be cured by having sex with a young virgin. This has led to a massive increase of child rape, incest and child AIDS deaths. Due to the ambiguous stand taken by many community leaders the people are confused and fearful about AIDS and help is desperately needed.