HIV/AIDS Poses Threat to Botswana’s Economy, Officials, Advocates Say
The HIV/AIDS epidemic in Botswana is threatening to hinder the country's economic growth, some officials and HIV/AIDS advocates have said recently, AFP/Business in Africa reports. The country's Ministry of Health has said that about 38.5% of the adult population is HIV-positive, while a 2006 UNAIDS report said the country's adult HIV prevalence is about 24%. International advocacy groups report that life expectancy in the country has decreased to an average of 34 years, and CIA data show that the country has a negative population growth curve. Elias Dewah -- executive director of the Botswana Confederation of Commerce, Industry and Manpower -- said HIV/AIDS has caused lowered productivity, absenteeism and deaths among workers in the country. David Ngele, executive director of the Botswana Network of People Living With HIV/AIDS, said engineering and other industries have been "hard hit" by the epidemic. "We have lost a lot of people," Dewah said, adding, "It is a matter of extreme concern, but it is not yet a disaster." According to AFP/Business in Africa, businesses have been working with the government and nongovernmental organizations to develop HIV prevention education programs in the workplace. The government -- which aims to halt new HIV cases by 2016 -- has centered its HIV/AIDS programs on prevention, including distributing condoms at no cost nationwide. According to the health ministry, 59,940 of the 68,440 HIV-positive people who were receiving antiretroviral treatment as of June were receiving the drugs with government assistance. The government aims to provide 150,000 people with access to antiretroviral treatment by 2009, but it has expressed cost concerns. According to AFP/Business in Africa, Botswana also faces a lack of infrastructure and health workers to monitor how patients respond to treatment (Moipolai, AFP/Business in Africa, 9/27).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.