HIV/AIDS Will Not Lead to Economic ‘Doomsday,’ South African Finance Minister Says
South Africa's HIV/AIDS epidemic will affect economic growth but will not lead to a "doomsday scenario," South African Finance Minister Trevor Manuel told an annual economic forum on Wednesday, Reuters reports. A study conducted by the independent Bureau for Economic Research predicted that HIV/AIDS would slow gross domestic product growth by 0.25% annually between 2002 and 2010, and by 0.5% between 2002 and 2015. Taking this assessment into account, it is still possible for South Africa's economy to grow by 3% or more each year for the next few years, Manuel said, adding that inflation could remain at 7% or decline, and that the budget deficit could remain less than 3% of GDP. "It's quite important that we don't allow ourselves to be stampeded into something that doesn't allow us to focus policy," he added. One in nine South Africans are estimated to have HIV. In April, the government "reverse[d]" some of its HIV/AIDS policies, a move that many economists say helped speed the recovery of the rand, the country's currency, this year. At the forum, Gaby Magomola, chair of the South African Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, also called on businesses to do more to battle the epidemic, calling their response so far "inadequate." A survey of 110 companies found that only 27% had undertaken efforts to assess the impact of the disease and incorporate that information into their business plans (Isa, Reuters, 6/6).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.