|The Business Response to HIV/AIDS: Innovation and Partnership (UNAIDS, 1997, 60 p.)|
|The Challenge of HIV/AIDS|
Since the mid-1980s, HIV has spread to almost every country in the world. Nearly 12 million people have already died of AIDS since the start of the epidemic. And the worst is still to come. At the end of 1997, UNAIDS and the World Health Organization estimated that 30.6 million adults and children were living with HIV infection. In the absence of a cure, most of these people will go on to die prematurely. They will not be the last. It is estimated that 5.8 million people were newly-infected with HIV in 1997 alone. Unless much more is done to prevent new infections, the virus is likely to continue its rapid spread.
FIGURE 1 Adults and children estimated to be living with HIV/AIDS as of end 1997
One of the most devastating aspects of HIV is that it tends to kill young people who are at the heart of both economic and social activity workers, managers, parents, technicians. In the United States AIDS was until recently the leading cause of death among men in the economically productive age group of 25 to 44, even though prevalence of the disease is relatively low in the country. Treatment with a combination of drugs has brought down the death rate in the past two years, but it still ranks in second place after accidental injuries.
FIGURE 2 Death rates from leading causes of death in persons aged 25-44, USA, 1982-96
In developing countries where more people are infected and expensive drugs are not widely available, AIDS is responsible for as many as four out of every five adult deaths. As Figure 3 shows, AIDS has dramatically cut life-expectancy in many countries in the developing world. It has also encouraged the spread of other infectious diseases such as tuberculosis.
FIGURE 3 Impact of HIV/AIDS epidemic on projected life expectancy at birth - selected sub-Saharan countries