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Analysing the economic and social costs of AIDS

Staff Reporter

KOCHI: ‘HIV and AIDS – an economic development perspective', a book by Dr. Helan A. P. (Sr. Teresa), tries to capture the socio-economic impact of HIV/ AIDS besides presenting the stigma and discrimination associated with the disease.

Dr. Helan, who is the Head of the Department of Economics at St. Teresa's College here, also makes an effort to draw up an action plan at the institutional and political level to eradicate the disease HIV/AIDS.

“There are several mechanisms through which AIDS may have a potential impact on the economy. First, the sheer scale of the virus makes some economic effect inevitable. Second, there is a direct effect on businesses, as HIV's prime target is people of working age. Third, the susceptibility of working-age individuals leads to a potential reduction in savings rates and disposable income, which may have an economic impact,” she said.

Industry affected

Stating that HIV/AIDS had left an economic impact in areas like health, tourism, agriculture and private industry, Dr. Helan said that the costs to business arise from two major factors – the effect of HIV on the workforce and the threat to the customer base, with potential further impact on a company's corporate reputation stemming from the presence of HIV infected individuals at the company.

Dr. Helan pointed out that the evidence on the economic impact of HIV and AIDS on workforce is felt mainly through increased absenteeism, recruitment and training costs, and damaged morale.

Vulnerable sectors

“HIV is likely to infect individuals in sectors that involve mobile and sex-segregated labour like fishing and military; health care and tourism,” she said. Dr. Helan, who had penned books including ‘Housing Finance in Kerala – Issues Strategies and Options'; ‘Integrated Municipal Solid Waste Treatment in Kerala'; and ‘A Treasure Within', suggested conscious efforts and collaborative functioning at all levels in the State to check and control the spread of HIV/AIDS.

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