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Poverty and labour market markers of HIV+ households: an exploratory methodological analysis

Haroon Bhorat & Najma Shaikh1

Development Policy Research Unit, University of Cape Town ↦ Provincial Administration of the Western Cape

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While HIV epidemic continues to mature in South Africa, showing no signs of plateauing, it is clear that South Africa(SA) stands at the brink of an AIDS crisis. Some of the salient features of the AIDS pandemic are understood in terms of the demographic profile namely; HIV/AIDS tends to strike young, heterosexual, sexually active adults (DOH, 1998; DOH, 2000). However, the economic implications of the pandemic remain murky at best, with a limited understanding on how HIV related mortality and morbidity trends affect productivity, factor returns, employment, income distribution, savings rates, consumption patterns and other economic variables.

In addition, there is very little empirically robust information on the social and welfare correlates of the pandemic. Understanding these economic implications is clearly critical in the post-apartheid period. The core asset of a country is its skilled human resources and it is the very nub of this component that is being threatened by the pandemic. Whilst there has been debate about the impact of HIV/AIDS on poverty, the link between HIV/AIDS prevalence and the various determinants of poverty and labour market outcomes has not been rigorously dealt with in the South African literature. One of the key obstacles to understanding of these issues is the absence of hard data on HIV status and its association with poverty, inequality and labour markets.

The purpose of this proposed research initiative is therefore to develop a methodology to analyse the features of the HIV/AIDS epidemic at the household level through the use of existing household survey data. This would allow us to get a snapshot of the features of the HIV/AIDS epidemic at the household level. This combined with HIV antenatal data would provide a tentative window into the households that a sub-set of HIV/AIDS sufferers and their dependents emanate from.

  1. Director, Development Policy Research Unit (DPRU), School of Economics, University of Cape Town and Epidemiology Consultant, Provincial Administration of the Western Cape (P.A.W.C) respectively.

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