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Severe costs to Africa of HIV/AIDS predicted


PRAGUE (Reuters) - Southern Africa faces severe economic costs from the HIV/AIDS epidemic sweeping the region and will require international help to alleviate the problem, the International Monetary Fund said in its latest World Economic Outlook.

The costs, which some studies reckon will lead to a drop in annual economic growth rates of 1-2 percentage points, will exacerbate human suffering and social disruption and risk a vicious cycle of poverty and disease, the IMF said. "The HIV/AIDS problem in southern Africa is already of enormous dimension is clear that these countries will require considerable external assistance to address it," the report said.

"To prevent the situation from deteriorating further, it will be critical to reduce the rate of new infections," the IMF said, citing some success in preventative measures in Uganda and Senegal.

The IMF said that by 2010 gross domestic product (GDP) per capita in the worst affected countries could be 5% lower than it would be without the effects of the disease.

It said even this number will underestimate the welfare cost because GDP per capita does not account fully for the human, social and pecuniary costs of HIV/AIDS.

"The epidemic creates a vicious cycle by reducing economic growth which leads to increased poverty which, in turn, facilitates the rapid spread of HIV/AIDS as household food and health spending declines thereby reducing resistance to opportunistic infections."

The disease affects all forms of the economy from the direct impact on the labor force to the effect on government budgets from the cost of additional healthcare to lower savings rates, the IMF said.


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Information in this article was accurate in September 19, 2000. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.