Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Economics and HIV/AIDS

Busy bee. that is me. I have made a list of things to do and it does not seem to come to an end. I've given up on my quest to find travel funds to attend the Toronto International AIDS Conference because I'm way too busy to start writing letters to Canadian funders, the embassy and all that hassle. It is the same time that I'll hopefully be doing my field work so I'll take this as an opportunity to do my best local research. Many conferences to come. The main reason I would have liked to attend is to find out how the world is economically dealing with the epidemic through the business value chain and how HIV/AIDS is affecting market development in some of the hard hit areas. If you have a whole population of 18-45 year olds, the most productive in your population, being wiped out by a disease, how do you start to market or create products that fit the needs of young people and the elderly? In the microfinance sense, what kind of reseach is being done for an alternative niche market who are may be dependent on social transfers and pensions to take care of their grandchildren whose parents have passed away from the epidemic?

Treatment is on its way but I think it is critical to start to think about how a business must adjust to the changes from a decrease in your labour force and lower productivity from illness. What kind of policies are being put in place to lessen discrimination for those individuals? Well, I have found a place to start my research at a place called HEARD (Health Economics and Research Division) here at UKZN. The Director, Alan Whiteside, has had some articles on the effects of HIV/AIDs on the labour force.

Other stuff on HIV/AIDS in Southern Africa course, we had to form groups and on June 15, do a presentation on any topic. Our group has decided to do the following "How to achieve adherence to ARV treatment?" Dude where do you start on something like this? Well, my group is made up of two demographers, two nurses, one AIDS counsellor/nurse and me, the economics person. We've already brainstormed on how people do not follow treatment because they do not take it seriously enough, the stigma, denial from the individual, family and workplace, the need to work (can't miss work for a treatment), the list goes on.

Hein Marais article in the Mail & Guardian SA: "A plagus of inequality". "Aids is meshing with the routine distress endured by millions of South Africans"

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