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POVERTY AND HIV

POVERTY AND HIV/AIDS IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA 07/13/2006 05:20 PM. Issues Paper No. 27. POVERTY AND HIV/AIDS IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA. Desmond Cohen TABLE OF CONTENTS. POVERTY AND HIV/AIDS IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA. HIV PREVALENCE -- THE EVIDENCE. POVERTY AS PROCESS. POVERTY and HIV Infection Coping with HIV and AIDS. Intergenerational Impacts of HIV. CONCLUSIONS. POVERTY AND HIV/AIDS IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA. There are two bi-causal relationships which need to be understood by those involved in policy and programme development. These are: the relationship between POVERTY and HIV/AIDS -- which includes the spatial and socio-economic distribution of HIV infection in African populations, and consideration of POVERTY -related factors which affect household and community coping capacities; and the relationship between HIV/AIDS and POVERTY -- understanding the processes through

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1 POVERTY AND HIV/AIDS IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA 07/13/2006 05:20 PM. Issues Paper No. 27. POVERTY AND HIV/AIDS IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA. Desmond Cohen TABLE OF CONTENTS. POVERTY AND HIV/AIDS IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA. HIV PREVALENCE -- THE EVIDENCE. POVERTY AS PROCESS. POVERTY and HIV Infection Coping with HIV and AIDS. Intergenerational Impacts of HIV. CONCLUSIONS. POVERTY AND HIV/AIDS IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA. There are two bi-causal relationships which need to be understood by those involved in policy and programme development. These are: the relationship between POVERTY and HIV/AIDS -- which includes the spatial and socio-economic distribution of HIV infection in African populations, and consideration of POVERTY -related factors which affect household and community coping capacities; and the relationship between HIV/AIDS and POVERTY -- understanding the processes through which the experience of HIV and AIDS.

2 By households and communities leads to an intensification of POVERTY . To make sense of these relationships there has to be an understanding of the complex socio-economic processes at work in African societies, together with a conceptualisation of POVERTY which is multi-dimensional. It follows that analysis of the issues has to encapsulate: the gender dimensions of POVERTY -- in particular that the poorest households are often female headed;. the intergenerational aspects of POVERTY -- the importance of seeing POVERTY as part of dynamic social, economic and political processes.

3 The qualitative as well as quantitative measures of POVERTY -- giving appropriate weight to those aspects of POVERTY which delineate and define capacities and contributions by individuals and households to socio-economic and political processes, and how these are changed by the epidemic; and the ways in which the HIV epidemic alters the complex relationships between the poor and the wealthy -- through changes in income and asset distributions brought about by the epidemic and through an intensification of processes of social exclusion. HIV PREVALENCE C THE EVIDENCE. Of the global total of 30 million persons living with HIV in 1997 some two-thirds (21 million) are in sub-Saharan Africa.

4 Infection is concentrated in the socially and economically productive groups aged 15-45, with slightly more women infected than men. There are significant differences in the ages of infection of girls and boys with infection occurring at younger ages for girls (with girls and young women in some countries outnumbering boys and young men by factors of 5 or 6 in the age range 15-20). It is estimated that 12. million persons have died from HIV-related illnesses since the start of the epidemic worldwide, of whom approximately 9 million were Africans. It follows that the cumulative affected population in Africa taking into account spouses, children and elderly dependents must be of the order of 150 million1.

5 This is a staggering proportion of the total population in sub-Saharan Africa - more than one quarter of Africans are directly affected by the HIV epidemic. Few people can remain unaffected in indirect ways, through the illness and death of relatives and colleagues. The levels of HIV prevalence in parts of Africa are extremely high - in Southern Africa there are now many countries with HIV infection rates in adults in the range of 20-25%. The gap between rural and urban HIV rates -- previously substantial -- is now narrowing rapidly in many countries. For some urban populations HIV is now as high as 40-50% -- rates of infection earlier considered wholly improbable.

6 One consequence of the high HIV infection rates among women is the increasing number of children with HIV (through mother to child transmission). It is estimated that there are presently some 8 million children in Africa who have lost one or both parents to HIV-related illnesses, and that by 2010 these numbers will have increased to some 40 million. In many countries the proportion of children who have Page 1 of 5. POVERTY AND HIV/AIDS IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA 07/13/2006 05:20 PM. lost one or both parents will be as high as 20-25% by the end of the first decade of the new millennium ( ).

7 These trends have direct implications for intergenerational POVERTY and impose immense challenges for policy makers. HIV infection is not confined to the poorest even though the poor account absolutely for most of those infected in Africa. There is limited evidence for a socio-economic gradient to HIV infection, with rates higher as one moves through the educational and socio-economic structure. It follows that the relationships between POVERTY and HIV are far from simple and direct and more complex forces are at work than just the effects of POVERTY alone. Indeed many of the non-poor in Africa have adopted and pursued life styles which expose them to HIV infection, with all the social and economic consequences that this entails.

8 It follows that the capacity of individuals and households to cope with HIV and AIDS will depend on their initial endowment of assets - both human and financial. The poorest by definition are least able to cope with the effects of HIV/AIDS so that there is increasing immiseration for affected populations. Even the non-poor find their resources diminished by their experience of infection (morbidity and death), and there is increasing evidence in urban communities of an emerging class of those recently impoverished by the epidemic. The effects of HIV and AIDS are reflected in the changes in Life Expectancy ( ) which is the best summary indicator of the effects of HIV and AIDS on countries with high levels of HIV prevalence.

9 These data are remarkable for what they illustrate of the demographic impact of the epidemic on African populations. In many countries adult mortality has doubled and trebled over the past decade and this is directly attributable to HIV and AIDS. What is now being experienced by these populations are levels of Life Expectancy which were typical of the 1950s. This is not confined to those living in POVERTY but nevertheless is concentrated on those living in POVERTY who account absolutely for most of those who die from HIV-related illnesses. These data reflect HIV infection which occurred in the late 1980s, and since then in many countries HIV prevalence has intensified rather than diminished.

10 Thus the outlook for further declines in Life Expectancy is bleak indeed, both in the aggregate and for those who are the poorest. POVERTY AS PROCESS. It is easier to understand some of these complex issues if the bi-causal relationships are analysed through partial analysis - specifically by segmenting the stages of the epidemic so as to isolate some of the causal and consequential factors at work in the processes of immiseration. These processes are well illustrated by the different life-histories which are in the various boxes -- selected precisely because they illustrate some of the important dynamic forces at work.