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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
SOUTH AFRICA: HIV-Related Deaths Slow Economy
Kristin Palitza
February 1, 2012
Inter Press Service (01.27.12) - Wednesday, February 01, 2012

South Africa should have a population of 55 million citizens in 2012, but the toll of HIV/AIDS makes the figure closer to 50.6 million people, according to a new study by the South African Institute for Race Relations (SAIRR).

The research organization's analysis used data from the Actuarial Society of South Africa and the South African Institute for Futures Research. It found almost one-third of all deaths in 2011 were AIDS-related. By 2025, the proportion of AIDS deaths is expected to rise 121 percent from the level in 2000, SAIRR said.

"The decrease of population growth has a negative impact on South Africa, because the group most affected by HIV and AIDS is aged between 15 and 49 years, which is the most productive part of the population," said SAIRR researcher Thuthukani Ndebele. "If this age group continues to die early, we will see an acute social and economic impact throughout the country." SAIRR predicts the total number of South Africans living with HIV/AIDS will reach 6 million in 2015 - double the number recorded in 2000.

In addition to reduced life expectancy and increased mortality, HIV/AIDS causes broader social ills such as orphanhood and child-headed households. UNICEF figures show that in 2009, 2 million South African children had lost one or both parents to the disease.

SAIRR is especially worried about the burden HIV/AIDS will have on the country's public health system. In 2009, South Africa spent nearly 9 percent of its GDP on health, according to World Bank data. This percentage could increase in the near future. "Health budgets might have to increase even further, if government wants to prevent HIV/AIDS having an even more negative impact on the economy than it already has," said Ndebele.