What are the Social and Economic Impact of HIV/AIDS?

HIV/AIDS impacts all sectors of society and particularly those in our partner provinces. Some of the significant costs include:

Health Care

  • overcrowding of care facilities
  • shortage of trained staff
  • inadequate, unavailable medicine and supplies
  • need for care in home settings
  • poorly trained caregivers
  • inadequate support from the traditional extended family
  • inadequate resources for health care and support
  • insufficient food supplies and under-nutrition

Economic impact

  • increased poverty of population
  • fewer work opportunities
  • loss of labor force, decrease in trained workers
  • decreased production and competitive edge
  • decreased income to government from taxes
  • inadequate infrastructure to cope with basic services

Educational impact

  • shortage of teachers
  • decrease in student population

Social impact

  • increase in number of AIDS and vulnerable orphans
  • increased need for indigent support
  • disruption of family units
  • diminished passing on of traditions and values
  • frail elderly often caring for surviving children/ grandchildren

Global Issues in Treatment

There are many factors to consider as we look at ways to provide medications for those in our partner provinces who are combating HIV/ AIDS. These include:

  • the cost of medications
  • the availability of medications to halt and hopefully decrease the replication of the virus; combination therapies are proving more effective
  • the ability to assess and manage side effects
  • the increasing potential to develop resistance to a medication; thus the need for other treatment options or the virus will come back full force
  • the importance of taking the medications as directed in order to keep the virus under control and to decrease the possibility of resistant strains developing.

Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT)

Mothers who are infected with the HIV virus are at risk to transmit that virus to their newborn during the process of labor and birth. A primary HIV prevention strategy is to test all pregnant women to determine if they carry the virus in order to be able to offer therapy to decrease the chance that the virus will be given to the child.

If the mother is untreated, the child has a 20 to 25% chance of becoming infected. In Tanzania the risk appears to be around 30% without treatment. This of course varies, depending on the amount of virus carried by the mother. Women treated in the US on a full antiretroviral regimen can decrease the risk of transmission to the child to about 2%. Women who live in our partner provinces have less opportunity to have this level of treatment. In some situations the mother is given one dose of an antiretroviral drug at delivery and the child receives one dose after birth. In Tanzania this can reduce the risk of transmission of HIV to the infant to 15-18%.

Where can I find information on HIV/AIDS trends and statistics?

UNAIDS has a list of Fast Facts About AIDS that addresses frequently asked questions:

  1. General information about HIV and AIDS
  2. Transmission
  3. Prevention
  4. Care
  5. Testing
  6. Myths


Information about AIDS is rapidly changing. UNAIDS web page posts frequent updates on their web page with links to other AIDS sites.

UNAIDS web site for FAQ is located at: UNAIDS

The 2007 AIDS Epidemic Update gives UNAIDS current statistics on HIV and explanations for revisions of the recent downward estimate of HIV prevalence from 39.5 in 2006 million to 33.2 million in 2007. This link answers FAQ’s on:

  1. Global HIV Prevalence
  2. Global HIV Incidence
  3. AIDS Deaths in 2007
  4. Reason for Revision of HIV Statistics
  5. Methodology
  6. Impact of Revisions


What is the Impact of HIV/AIDS on Orphans?

Orphan Relief

Before the impact of AIDS throughout the world, about 2% of all children in developing countries were orphans. By 1997 the proportion of children with one or both parents dead had skyrocketed to 7% in many African countries and sometimes was as high as 11%. Latest statistics from UNAIDS indicate that more than 11 million children under the age of 15 in sub-Saharan Africa have lost at least one parent to HIV/AIDS; 34 million children have been orphaned overall.

In Africa, AIDS is generating orphans so quickly that extended families can no longer cope. Families and communities can barely fend for themselves, much less care for the orphans. Children who have lost a parent due to AIDS suffer more than other orphans because of the stigma attached to the disease. They face more risk of malnutrition, illness, abuse and sexual exploitation than children orphaned by other causes, and can even be deprived of education and basic social services.

Many agencies, including our BWM, are working to stem the impact of AIDS on orphans. These include UNICEF, Compassion International, World Vision, the World Health Organization, to name a few. Feel free to check their websites to learn more about their work. The AIDS Orphan Bracelet Project is a project through a coalition of organizations to raise funds for orphan relief in Africa. You can find more at their website: The BWM is also collecting funds to support the orphan work in our partner provinces.

FAQ about Children Orphaned by AIDS can be found at:

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