Worldwatch Institute Study Shows AIDS Devastation in Africa
The African AIDS epidemic is lowering life expectancy and fertility, increasing mortality, leaving more men alive than women, and producing millions of orphans, according to a Worldwatch Institute analysis. Calling some of the life expectancies in Africa "akin to those of the Middle Ages," Institute chair Lester Brown said that AIDS is "not being given the priority it deserves," and noted that without a "medical miracle" nearly all 24 million Africans infected with HIV this year will die. In Zimbabwe, AIDS has reduced the projected 2010 life expectancy from 70 to below 35 years, while in South Africa life expectancy will decline from 68 to 48, and in Zambia from 60 to 30. New research also shows that HIV reduces fertility among women; by the time symptoms appear, HIV-infected women are 70% less likely to be pregnant than those who were not infected. In addition, African women often become infected at younger ages by having sex with older men, and as a result die before completing their reproductive years. The report points out that AIDS "is claiming more females than males in Africa, promising a future where men will outnumber women 11 to 9," a female shortage that is "unique in the world." The analysis also projects that the AIDS-related death of many young parents in Africa will lead to 40 million orphaned children by 2010, with "a real possibility that millions of orphans will become street children." However, the report indicates that some hope may be offered by Uganda and Zambia, which are lowering infection rates by making AIDS a high priority (Dunphy, Associated Press, 10/31).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.