Life Expectancy in 51 Nations to Decline Due to AIDS, U.S. Census Bureau Report States
AIDS will cause a drop in life expectancy in 51 countries in the next 20 years, according to a report released by the U.S. Census Bureau on the first day of the XIV International AIDS Conference, the Washington Post reports. The effect of AIDS is the greatest in sub-Saharan Africa, where seven nations now have life expectancies under 40 years, and researchers predict life expectancies in 11 countries will reach that level by 2010. In Botswana, the "hottest of AIDS hot spots," life expectancy is currently 39 years. The declining life expectancies will soon reach levels that have not existed since the 19th century, according to Karen Stanecki, a Census Bureau demographer. Although AIDS-related deaths in young adulthood play a large role in the declining life expectancies, infant mortality related to AIDS is growing after "decades of increasing child survival." In Zimbabwe and South Africa, the infant mortality rate is higher than it was in 1990, and in Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Namibia, the number of AIDS-related infant deaths is greater than deaths from all other causes (Brown, Washington Post, 7/8). "Unfortunately, many African countries are only beginning to see the impact of high levels of HIV prevalence," Stanecki said. According to the report, five African nations will experience more deaths than births by 2010, meaning populations will begin declining. The bureau predicts that life expectancy will drop to just 27 years in Botswana and Mozambique in the next eight years, while Swaziland will have an estimated life expectancy of 33 years and Zimbabwe, Zambia and Namibia will have an expected life span of 34 years. Without AIDS, the bureau said that life expectancy in Africa would have been approximately 70 years by 2010 (Smith, National Post, 7/8).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.