More Than 35 M Working-Age Adults Living with HIV/AIDS, International Labor Organization Report Says
About 36.5 million adults of working age are HIV-positive and about 28 million working-age adults have died from AIDS-related causes since the beginning of the epidemic, according to a report released on Sunday by the International Labor Organization at the XV International AIDS Conference in Bangkok, Thailand, VOA News reports. ILO surveyed workers between the ages of 15 and 64 in 50 countries and found that HIV/AIDS is "one of the biggest causes of mortality in the working world," according to VOA News. The report, titled "HIV/AIDS and Work: Global Estimates, Impact and Response," shows that if access to antiretroviral drug treatment is not increased, the number of workers who die from AIDS-related causes will increase to 48 million by 2010 and 74 million by 2015, according to the report. In addition, about two million people by 2005 and four million by 2015 will be too ill to work and will have "dropped out of the labor force," Odile Frank, the report's author, said. The loss of workers at their most productive stage in life costs the world approximately $25 billion annually, according to the report (Schlein, VOA News, 7/1). In addition, young women -- who are usually responsible for caring for family members with HIV and other family members in addition to often being responsible for subsistence farming -- account for the largest increases in HIV-prevalence rates worldwide, the report says, according to Xinhuanet. The combination of these factors "jeopardizes their capacity" to provide food for the household and care for family members, Xinhuanet reports (Xinhuanet, 7/11). ILO Director-General Juan Somavia said, "HIV/AIDS is not only a human crisis, it is a threat to sustainable global, social and economic development," adding that the loss of life from AIDS-related causes and the "debilitating effects of the illness will lead not only to a reduced capacity to sustain production and employment, reduce poverty and promote development, but will be a burden borne by all societies -- rich and poor alike" (Xinhua News Agency, 7/11).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.