The WorldWatch Institute recently
released a report arguing that premature mortality from AIDS accounted
for about one-third of the current slowing of population growth with the
other two-thirds being accounted for by declines in fertility. Is AIDS
having a serious impact on world population growth?
In some African nations, AIDS
has become a nightmare according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics. In
Zimbabwe, for example, life expectancy has fallen to 39 years – down from
65 years prior to the AIDS epidemic.
“AIDS results in higher
mortality rates in childhood, as well as among young adults where mortality
otherwise is low,” said Karen Stanecki who co-authored the Census
Bureau’s recent World Population Profile: 1998. “As a result,
AIDS deaths will have a larger impact on life expectancies than on some
other demographic indicators in these nations.”
According to the US Census
Bureau, by 2010 sub-Saharan Africa alone will have 71 million fewer people
than it would have without the AIDS epidemic. Some parts of Latin America
and Asia will also experience significant decreases in population growth
due to the effect of AIDS.
On the other hand, the Census
Bureau report projects that the AIDS pandemic should run its course in
Africa by 2020 at which point the number of deaths will again decline
in those parts of Africa hit hardest and life expectancies will begin
to rise. Part of the good news in the Census Bureau report highlights
the turnaround in Uganda, one of the nations hit hardest by the AIDS epidemic
— in some areas prevalence of the disease is as high as 30 percent of
the population. Since 1993, however, the prevalence of AIDS has been halved
in the country thanks to the government’s willingness to admit to the
epidemic and tackle the problem head on.
Life expectancy in Africa cut short by AIDS. CNN, March 18, 1999.
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