Christian Science Monitor Examines Shortening of Life Spans, Especially in African Countries With High HIV/AIDS Prevalence
The Christian Science Monitor on Thursday examined how life spans are decreasing in some African countries with high HIV prevalence, while the average life span worldwide has increased from about 60 years to 67 years over the past three decades. In 10 sub-Saharan African countries, the average life span has fallen below 40 years. According to the U.N. Human Development Report 2004, life expectancy in Zimbabwe has fallen from 56 years in 1970-1975 to 33.1 years today. During the same time period, Zambia's life expectancy dropped from 49.7 years to 32.4 years, Lesotho's life expectancy decreased from 49.5 to 35.1 years and Botswana's dropped from 56.1 to 39.7 years. Projections about the number of HIV/AIDS-related deaths in China and India suggest a "difficult battle" for improving life spans in those countries as well, according to the Monitor. "We talk a lot about the inequality of wealth (between the developed and developing worlds), and it seems to me we don't talk enough about the inequality in length of life because connected with that, of course, is education, vigor, productivity," Robert Butler, founder of the International Longevity Center, said. John Bongaarts, vice president for policy research at the Population Council, said, "If you were to take AIDS away, I think you would see gains (in longevity) everywhere." There is hope that "lifestyle changes" could lower HIV prevalence in Africa because about 99% of the HIV infections that occurred in the region in 2001 were sexually transmitted, according to a WHO report released in 2002, the Monitor reports (Lamb, Christian Science Monitor, 11/4).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.