AIDS Could Devastate Economies of Cambodia, Papua New Guinea, Study Says
HIV/AIDS could devastate the economies of Cambodia and Papua New Guinea as it has in some sub-Saharan African countries, according to a new Asian Development Bank study released on Wednesday, Agence France-Presse reports. Cambodia currently has an HIV prevalence rate of 2.6%, the highest in Asia, compared with an average prevalence of 7.4% in sub-Saharan Africa, the report says. According to estimates, a 10% increase in the disease's prevalence in Cambodia would cause per capita gross domestic product to decline by almost 1.4%, report author and ADB economist Ajay Tandon said (Agence France-Presse, 11/30). Papua New Guinea has an HIV prevalence rate of up to 2%, according to the United Nations and the Australian government aid program AusAID (AAP/Australian, 12/1). However, Papua New Guinea is projected to have the highest HIV prevalence rate increase "and hence the highest adverse economic effect: a decline in annual GDP per capita of about 4%," according to the report (Agence France-Presse, 11/30). Elden Chamberlain, an Australian Red Cross HIV/AIDS adviser, said that if the prevalence rate keeps increasing in Papua New Guinea, the country's work force could decline by 34% by 2020 and measures of economic welfare could drop between 12% and 48% (AAP/Australian, 12/1). The ADB report says the HIV/AIDS epidemic reduces labor productivity and human capital, cuts savings rates and hampers population growth rates, thereby leading to an increase in the dependency ratio of the population (Agence France-Presse, 11/30).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.