Impacts of AIDS
Impact on Society
Population and Population Structure
The impact of AIDS on the world population has not reached its peak. According to the 2006 UN AIDS Report, “Current projections suggest that by 2015, in the 60 countries most affected by aids, the total population will be 115 million less than it would in the absence of AIDS.” In addition, although life expectancy will continue to rise from 49.1 years to 65.4 years in 2050, it will still be 12 to 17 years less than the life expectancies around the world. The biggest increase in mortality is in the 20-49 age group because AIDS affects adults during the prime of their lives. AIDS is the leading cause of death of adults between the ages of 15 to 44 in Haiti. Life expectancy in Dominican Republic is three years lower than it would have been without AIDS.
Hospitals that do accept AIDS cases are struggling to cope with the overwhelming numbers of patients. According to Avert, “In sub-Saharan Africa, people with HIV-related diseases occupy more than half of all hospital beds.” In addition, “Government-funded research in South Africa has suggested that, on average, HIV-positive patients stay in hospital four times longer than other patients.” As a result, hospitals in poorer communities lack beds to care for AIDS cases, reducing the quality of care.
The AIDS epidemic is also impacting healthcare workers. The epidemic demands more health care workers, yet the poor pay, excessive workload, and poor conditions have discouraged health care workers from staying. Health care workers also face the possibility of getting AIDS themselves. According to Avert, “Botswana, for example, lost 17% of its healthcare workforce due to AIDS between 1999 and 2005. A study in one region of Zambia found that 40% of midwives were HIV-positive.”
The growing epidemic threatens the government’s ability to provide services for the people because governments are forced to spend more on health departments. Moreover, AIDS threatens the continuity and effectiveness of the government’s ability to provide services. If many government workers die as a result of AIDS, it means a loss of experience and efficiency for the country.
Social Instability and Panic
Because most AIDS cases occur in poor and uneducated communities, people are prone to believe rumors about AIDS, causing social instability and panic. For example, in 2000, the Liaoshen Evening News in China reported that people infected with HIV had injected their blood into watermelons. The rumors proved false, but for several years local watermelon farmers suffered.
Impact on the Economy
Loss of Workforce and Economic Development
This is especially true in sub-Saharan Africa. Because AIDS claims people in the prime working years of their lives, it also means the loss of workforce for a country. The increasing number of HIV/AIDS and AIDS orphans is so great that may even threaten the community and the national development. As the economy and state administration declines, instead of concentrating on industrializing and improving the country, governments are investing more into health care and social services. AIDS affects businesses which have to deal with the depleting number of able workers, rising costs for company health care and funeral or pension benefits. The growing number of AIDS orphans also deepens the poverty of the relatives they are sent to live with; thus, businesses also have to worry about a declining demand for goods and services due to the household’s loss of income.
Because most AIDS cases are in the poorest communities, AIDS deepens poverty of its victims and increases the gap between the rich and poor. According to the 2006 UNAIDS report, “[F]amilies in the poorest quartile will acquire eight people who will become dependent on their income as a result of AIDS.” With the death of the income earner for the family, AIDS will only cause the poor to get poorer.