HIV Leads to "Irreversible Poverty," UN Says
People in Asia with HIV are likely to end up in “irreversible poverty” because of the costs associated with living with the disease, a report from the United Nations said Thursday. As reported by AFP, healthcare costs, loss of employment and discrimination contribute to a “rapid socio-economic decline” hitting women and children the hardest.
“Without intervention, many [HIV-affected families] will slip into irreversible poverty,” said UN Development Program deputy regional director Nicolas Rosellini.
More needs to be done by national and regional governments to help minimize some of the impact of HIV, he added.
And the poverty doesn’t just stay within a generation. According to the UN report, HIV drives children into poverty for the rest of their lives because parents are left without the financial means to provide education. Many children from HIV-infected families in Asia even drop out altogether.
Women and children—especially female children—are especially affected by HIV. Already more biologically prone to infection, women and children also face limited access to treatment and the responsibility of caring for affected family members. This makes them more likely to get sick and to fall into poverty.
“The impact on women and children is devastating,” said Samlee Plianbangchang of the World Health Organization. “An estimated 1.3 million women aged 15 and above currently live with HIV [in Asia].”
Some improvement is being seen, however. According to AFP, better funding and operational systems are helping about half of people eligible for treatment receive the care they need. Those improvements saved 700,000 lives in 2010, the UN said.