Saharan Africa is a region in the world that has been adversely affected by the global AIDS epidemic. Although this region contains a little more than 10% of the world’s population, HIV/AIDS has caused immense human suffering in the continent (Bolar T & A Jellema, 2005). The most obvious effect of this crisis has been illness and death, but the impact of the epidemic has certainly not been confined and the economies have also been significantly affected.
Through the economic impact, AIDS has played a more significant role in the reversal of human development than any other factor. There is an aspect where the epidemic has done damage to the economy which in turn, has made it more difficult for countries to respond to the crisis. There is a way in which HIV /AIDS has affected the economy and this is by reducing the labour supply through increased mortality and illness. Among the affected, those who are able to work, productivity is likely to decline as a result of HIV related illness. The government income has also declined, as tax revenues fall and governments are pressured to increase their spending so as to deal with the expending HIV epidemic in the sub – Sahara. Research efforts suggest that the yearly impact of AIDS on sub – Saharan Africa’s gross domestic product is a loss of 1% (Bolar T & A Jellema, 2005).
The affected population in Africa taking into account spouses, children and the elderly is around an order of 150 million (Bolar T & A Jellema, 2005). It is a staggering proposition of the total population in sub – Saharan Africa where more than one quarter of the population is directly affected by the HIV epidemic. The levels of HIV providence in parts of Africa are extremely high. 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 which previously was substantial is now narrowing rapidly in many countries. In sub – Sahara urban population HIV is now as high as 40 – 50% rate of infection (Bolar T & A Jellema, 2005).
Generally, one consequence of the high HIV and AIDS infection rates among women is the increasing number of children with HIV through mother to child transmission. Through estimations, it is concluded that presently 8 million children in sub-Sahara Africa have lost one or both parents (Bolar T & A Jellema, 2005). Estimations also show that the proportion of children who have lost one or both parents will, in the near future, be as high as 20 – 25% (Bolar T & A Jellema, 2005). Economically, these effects cause direct implications for intergenerational poverty and impose immense challenges for policy makers.
There is a specific way in which the economics impact of AIDS on sub – Sahara Africa can be reduced. This can be done through the provision of antiretroviral drugs to people living with HIV. However, if the antiretroviral drugs coverage is expanded to reach 50% of those in need of the drugs then the effect of the epidemic on economic growth would be reduced by 17% (Bolar T & A Jellema, 2005).
HIV/AIDS has altered some of the main labour force characteristics of those countries most affected by the disease. Although the effect on the size of the labour force is not yet obvious in absolute values, HIV/AIDS has reduced the growth rate in sub – Saharan of the economically active population.