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Africa: Money no protection from HIV

Video guest: Josephine Mwangi

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Tuesday, 06 July 2010

Africa: Money no protection from HIV

A new study has challenged widely held assumptions about income level in relation to HIV, finding that neither wealth nor poverty are reliable predictors of HIV infection in Africa. Previously, the argument that poverty drove HIV epidemics was supported by the World Bank and UNAIDS, as well as less reliable authorities like former South African President Thabo Mbeki, who told the International AIDS Conference in Durban in 2000 that the disease was a partner with "poverty, suffering, social disadvantage and inequity". More recent research suggests that the reality is far more complex. For example, Botswana and South Africa, described as two of the wealthiest countries on the continent, also have among the highest rates of HIV infection.  Nevertheless, the idea that poverty fuels the spread of HIV has persisted as "a very dominant narrative", according to Justin Parkhurst of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Parkhurst analyzed and compared data on HIV and wealth from demographic and health surveys in 12 sub-Saharan African countries with generalized epidemics (national prevalence rates higher than 1 percent); his findings are published in the July issue of the Bulletin of the World.

Source: Reuters