Since it became internationally recognized as a threat to the health of man, HIV/AIDS has had significant impact on the world, both economically and socially. It has not only led to the deaths of people, thereby denying countries of their most crucial workforce, but it has also led to huge spending in all countries in terms of training manpower, treating co-morbidities and educating the masses on the disease so that the burden of the disease can be reduced. This paper is a discussion of these impacts.
First, the economic burden of HIV/AIDS cannot be overemphasized, as it affects households and governments in ways which are beyond estimation. When the economic impact of the disease to households is considered, it emerges that households use a lot of their resources in the treatment of the diseases which are as a result of HIV/AIDS. Some of these diseases like pneumonia, cancers like Kaposi Sarcoma and other opportunistic diseases are expensive and take longer time for individuals to recover. This necessitates larger spending of money which leaves the economy of these households dented and with very minimal chances of recovery (Poudel at el., 2017). Moreover, because the disease affects virtually all of the age groups, it might happen in certain incidences that the people who are infected by the disease are coincidentally the breadwinners in their families. Thus, when they finally succumb to the disease, their families are left in a quagmire, with very poor standards of living ensuing.
A study which was carried out by the Lancet in 188 countries to determine the nature and amount of spending with regards to health and HIV/AIDS between the years 1995 to 2015 realized that in most high-income countries, spending had not only tripled but the prevention of HIV/AIDS and certain non-communicable diseases consumed over a quarter of the annual budgets, with very slight variation in low and middle-income countries (Dieleman, 2018). According to the study, high income countries spent $6.5 trillion of their total incomes in the year 2015 on health and HIV/AIDS compared with low and middle income countries that spent about $70.3 billion of their incomes towards the same initiative (Dieleman, 2018) It is clear from this, therefore, that countries are spending huge resources that are geared towards the treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS. If the disease condition was not there, such monies would be invested in more deserving projects to benefit humanity. Countries therefore spend a lot of their resources on medications, laboratory services, direct and indirect personnel, patient support, among other resource needs that arise from time to time (Tagar et al., 2014).
Victims of the disease also have been shown to be stigmatized—especially in cultures where the disease is only arriving for the first time or in its early stages. When these victims are stigmatized, they become less productive when compared to the past lives that they used to lead. Moreover, the fact that the disease cannot be cured but can only be controlled has led to significant depression among the infected. Consequently, some of these victims end up committing suicide or committing serious harm to their bodies that leave them paralyzed and unproductive. The result is that these people resign, or are laid off, from their previous jobs leading to loss of manpower which has the potential of crumbling crucial industries in a country. Also, the victims of the disease spend most of their time off work seeking treatments. These frequent cases of absenteeism slow production, thereby negatively affecting the performance of the economy (Granich et al., 2016).
HIV/AIDS has also been shown to have negative consequences on the integrity of families where some family members are afflicted with the disease. First, it creates rifts between a husband and wife who erstwhile had very good emotional relationship before the disease set in. These couples start to blame one another as to who might have introduced the virus into the family. These blame games weaken the family ties hence making it difficult for these families to progress. Secondly, isolation might set in families in which the infected person starts to feel isolated in the same family thereby widening the rift. In a way, therefore, the disease interferes with the normal way of communication and relationships that had existed in families before it set it. Hence, the disease leaves these families socially vulnerable which can result in family break ups which leads to more street families and street children (Taraphdar et al., 2011).
According to Taraphdar et al. (2011), when HIV/AIDS sets it, families have to prioritize on improving health of those that have been affected by the disease. This means that finances which had been set aside to be used in other more deserving areas of the family such as education of the kids, construction of family house and other investments are diverted to improve health. The consequence of this is that these kids end up dropping out of school because of inadequate finances to support their schooling; the family ends up with no proper house to accommodate them; and, the family has no extra finances to invest in income generating activities. Extrapolated, the kids might join crime as a way of earning a living. This leads to spiraling of crime rates with families living in very poor conditions and living from hand to mouth. With time, these become expensive for the country lowering the economic growth of the countries involved.
In developing countries, health is normally a very expensive investment. This is compounded by the fact that in these countries—low and middle-income—there is no adequate finances to train personnel, equip hospitals, and purchase other needed supplies that are key in promoting health of the citizenry. The presence of HIV/AIDS throws these countries in deeper economic abyss. First, they have to acquire loans in order to be able to treat and prevent the spread of the disease. These loans are—for the most part—expensive and with very little to help. Moreover, some of them end up being carted away by some of the corrupt leaders in these countries. The consequence in this is that countries end up servicing loans that barely help them while the condition for which the loans are taken is barely controlled, if not escalating. As a result, most of these countries end up depending on donor aid to be able to take care of their own health which is expensive in the long run as it makes them less independent (Barnett et al., 2001).
HIV/AIDS also has negative consequences on education. Children whose parents are infected with the disease and are struggling to cope up have been shown to perform poorly when compared to children who come from stable and healthy households (Guo et al., 2012). This is largely because these children do not receive the full attention that they would have received in terms of emotional and financial support were their parents healthy. In addition, it has been shown that HIV/AIDS can be transmitted perinatally, with children victims ending up leading very desperate lives that is characterized by occasional depression. In fact, some of them end up dying when the disease becomes aggressive against their body immune systems. These children do not perform as well as those who are healthy—largely owing to their health states. Consequently, governments spend huge amounts of resources to educate them with minimal returns in terms of performance and research. These losses are felt after some years, of course with negative consequences on the growth of the economy (Guo et al., 2012).
Naturally, HIV/AIDS leaves the people whom it infects very weak, not only emotionally but also physically. The disease attacks the body’s immune system and leaves the body defenseless in terms of ability to fight off infections. Most of those infected with the disease therefore have to keep visiting hospitals for check-ups; have to occasionally rest and desist from engaging in calorie-consuming activities like farming. Most of the times they have to spend resting and doing jobs that are less demanding. The net effect of this is that with HIV/AIDS affecting significant population, very few people are left to practice agriculture and contribute to a country’s food security (Abu et al., 2010). Hence, in countries where most people are infected with the disease, the populace rarely practices agriculture. These countries have to import foods from other countries—an exercise that is expensive and full of uncertainties.
It has been shown that HIV/AIDS is becoming a threat to national and international security. And the significance of this is one that is worrying and should be checked. The infection rates in barracks and military bases since the disease was declared a global disaster has exponentially grown, thus threatening the very core of human safety. With security personnel getting infected, most of them are becoming delisted from the military, leaving very few people to take care of national and international security. These people are getting delisted because of the deleterious effects that the disease have on their individual body systems: They grow weak; take numerous leaves from duty because of the disease’s unpredictable effects on the body; numerous hospital visits; depression, among others. In fact, with the conditions like depression and suicidal tendencies setting in among the military personnel, it becomes dangerous to sustain them within the borders of the barracks. The consequence is that with very many people not getting enlisted with the military, the military departments end up having very few personnel to take care of national and international security. Hence, HIV/AIDS is a big threat to global security (Heinecken, 2001).
In conclusion, the aforementioned points illustrate the negative impacts that the disease has had to the whole world. Indeed, the impacts are not only social but are also economic, physical and psychological. The tackling of the challenges that are posed by HIV/AIDS involves understanding these impacts deeply so that solutions are drafted and targeted appropriately in a manner that ensures that resources are prudently managed. Overall, HIV/AIDS impacts on the economy in a big way.
Abu, G., et al. (2010). The Impact of HIV/AIDS on Agricultural Productivity in Ukom Local Government Area of Benue State, Nigeria. Journal of Human Ecology. 31(3), 157-163.
Barnett, T., et al. (2001). The Social and Economic Impact of HIV/AIDS in Poor Countries: A Review of Studies and Lessons. Progress in Development Studies. 1(2), 151-170.
Dieleman, J. (2018). Spending on Health and HIV/AIDS: Domestic Health Spending and Development Assistance in 188 Countries, 1995-2015. The Lancet. 391, 1799-1829.
Granich, R., et al. (2016). Pattern, Determinants, and Impact of HIV Spending on Care and Treatment in 38 High-Burden Low-and Middle-Income Countries. Journal of the International Association of Providers of AIDS Care. 15(1), 1-17.
Guo, Y., et al. (2012). The Impact of HIV/AIDS on Children’s Educational Outcome: A Critical Review of Global Literature. Journal of AIDS Care. 24, 993-1012.
Heinecken, L. (2001). HIV/AIDS, the Military and the Impact on National and International Security. Journal of Society in Transition. 32(1), 120-127.
Poudel, A., et al. (2017). The Economic Burden of HIV/AIDS on Individuals and Households in Nepal: A Quantitative Study: BMC Health Services Research. 17(76), 1-13.
Tagar, E., et al. (2014). Multi-Country Analysis of Treatment Costs for HIV/AIDS (MATCH): Facility-Level ART Unit Cost Analysis in Ethiopia, Malawi, Rwanda, S. Africa and Zambia. PLoS One. 9(11), e108304.
Taraphdar, P., et al. (2011). Socioeconomic Consequences of HIV/AIDS in the Family System. Nigerian Medical Journal. 52(4), 250-253.