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Effects of Aids in Africa

Sep 17, 2008
UN reports state that sub-Saharan Africa contains little more than 10 percent of the world's population and two thirds of the overall population in this region are people living with HIV (UNAIDS 2008 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic). AIDS has caused enormous human suffering and some of the problems the continent is faced with can be linked to the epidemic. All sectors of society have been affected; from households to the health sector, economy, and much more.


No part of the population is unaffected by HIV/AIDS but it is the poorest members of society that are most affected and vulnerable, and whom consequences of the epidemic are most severe to. Parents die, children are given to relatives but relatives are also affected children end up on their own hence families dissolve. Emotional drain, pain, despair, uncertainty and other emotions are brought about by the epidemic. Breadwinners die; medical costs and funeral costs further deplete the families. Families may choose to spend less on necessities like food to take care of their sick members with the hope that they would get better, and when they die it is a major blow to the family and they may never recover financially when the breadwinner dies. The rate of food production has dropped dramatically because HIV/AIDS is affecting the able members of our families then there is no one to cultivate the fields although drought is also to blame for this situation. With less food production, families are forced to rely on handouts or food distribution. Children lose not only caretakers or guardians, but sometimes their childhood as well, as they may be forced to be parents to their siblings at a tender age.


An increase in the prevalence rate of HIV in a country means the strain on that country's hospitals is likely to increase. In countries where there are shortages in health care supplies like beds and bedding material, not to mention medication, patients may be forced to use the floors and the hospitals may be forced to admit more than they are required or people are forced to return home. This may reduce the standard of care given to patients and you'll find cases like one nurse being responsible for 100 patients per day.

Health workers are also not spared from the epidemic yet there is also a high demand for health care. The conditions doctors, nurses and other health professionals work in - poor pay, excessive workloads and so on - forces them to migrate to countries with better opportunities, immediately after they've obtained better training and experience. Governments have to put in more money for treatment and the health sector proves to need more in terms of government funding.


As education workers are affected by the epidemic, the level and quality of education suffers in turn. Children are forced out of school because there is no one to pay school fees or they have to take care of their sick parents.

Human resource

With the labour force also affected, social and economic progress is heavily set back. There is less productivity when people are constantly sick and absent from work to the point where they do not recover. Not only that, but there are additional costs in outsourcing skills, skill is washed out, more sick leaves with pay and so on; companies have to invest more in productivity. There is increased absenteeism hence recruitment and training expenses.

Life expectancy

AIDS is washing down the drain years of progress in trying to extend life expectancy in many African countries. In Swaziland for instance, it has been estimated that life expectancy at birth, which is currently just 33, would be 66 without AIDS (UNDP, Human Development Report 2005). Government revenues have declined because most of the people die at a time when they have to contribute towards government tax.


HIV/AIDS came at a time when most African countries were still struggling to find their feet after war, debt and underdevelopment. Some of these countries are still struggling to measure up to these crises. Some governments still struggle to provide basic infrastructure for its citizens.
About the Author
Visit this african orphan website to read more and see videos about Orphans in Swaziland .
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