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Should Hiv/Aids Epidemic Be Viewed Purely As An Economic Problem? Would This Facilitate A Speedier Resolution? South African Economics

2065 words - 8 pages

IntroductionSouth Africa is currently facing one of the most severe HIV/Aids epidemics around the world, by the end of 2005 there were 5 and half million people living with HIV/Aids. Of those affected, the majority fall into the most productive sector of our economy (Cohen, 2000). In light of this the economy is still growing and is expected to continue growing, however, with more people being infected by the virus every day the question posed is, "how long will our economy continue to grow?" With an expected large scale roll out of antiretroviral treatment(ARV's) that is unparalleled by any other low or middle income country and an ever increasing health care budget, Government appears to be tackling the pandemic head on (ASGISA, 2006). However in light of the recent world Aids conference coupled with our own President's non committal stance on whether HIV causes Aids, mixed signals as to the prevention of HIV/Aids are being sent.With the GDP expected to decline steadily over the next decade due to lower productivity caused by Aids, the target of 6% growth proposed by the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa (AsgiSA) seems to be gradually falling out of reach.DiscussionBrief History of Aids in South AfricaThe first recorded case of AIDS in South Africa was diagnosed in 1982, and although initially HIV infections seemed mainly to be occurring amongst gay men, by 1985 it was clear that other sectors of society were also affected. The most rapid increase in South Africa's HIV prevalence took place between 1993 and 2000, during which time the country was distracted by major political changes. While the attention of the South African people and the world's media was focused on the political and social changes occurring in the country, HIV was silently gaining a foothold. Although the results of these political changes were positive, the spread of the virus was not given the attention that it deserved, and people did not realise the impact of the epidemic in South Africa until prevalence rates had begun to accelerate rapidly. South Africa was also late in the provision of ARV's, behind poorer countries like Uganda, Zambia, Botswana and Nigeria who had already started large scale role outs of ARV's (AVERT, 2006).South Africa has the fifth highest prevalence of HIV in the world, with 21.5% of the population estimated to be infected. The UNAIDS Global Report, estimated the number of AIDS related deaths in South Africa in 2003 ranged anywhere between 270 000 and 520 000. Given the numbers of people infected and dying, South Africa is regarded as having the most severe HIV epidemic in the world. This epidemic is still seven years away from peaking in terms of the numbers of projected AIDS related deaths (AIDS Foundation South Africa, 2006).HIV/Aids effects on the economyThe economic impact of HIV/Aids will undoubtedly have a negative impact on economic growth in South Africa. However, there are certain schools of thought that believe...

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