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Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology
Volume 14, Issue 8, Pages 685-690

The Economic Impact of AIDS in Africa

Alan W Whiteside

Health Economics and HIV/AIDS Research Division, University of Natal, South Africa

Received 22 June 1999; Revised 28 June 1999

Copyright © 2000 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The experience of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) in Africa is very different from that in the developed world. In the West, AIDS affects few people, and for those who are infected, it is an increasingly manageable illness. In Africa, huge numbers of people are being infected - mainly young adults through sexual intercourse. This is having a dramatic effect on key demographic indicators. Child mortality in some countries has doubled, while up to 25 years of life expectancy have been lost. The economic impact of AIDS is difficult to establish, but it is certainly leading to increased poverty in African families and communities. Development advances are being reversed, but the impact is incremental rather than catastrophic.