HIV/AIDS Epidemic Affecting Swaziland's Population, Experts Say
January 2, 2008
Preliminary results of Swaziland's national census released last month found that since 1997, the country's population has decreased by 17,489 people to 912,229, and many experts have attributed demographic changes to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, Toronto's Globe and Mail reports. The government has not finalized the results of the census, but if the figure holds, it would mean that the country is 300,000 people below what was projected as the likely rate of growth 20 years ago, according to the Globe and Mail.
According to the Globe and Mail, a "toxic mix" of factors has fueled the country's HIV epidemic, including a highly virulent strain of the disease circulating among residents; a culture that "condones, even encourages" promiscuity and polygamy among men and denies women the right to negotiate condom use; a "limited economy" that relies on sending men to work in South Africa for long periods of time; and a "playboy" king with an "ever-expanding stable" of wives who has denied the magnitude of the problem, according to the Globe and Mail. In addition, the country's understaffed and underfunded health system could not treat people when the epidemic hit in the 1990s and, as a result, "achingly slow progress" has been achieved in delivering antiretroviral drugs to those in need, the Globe and Mail reports. The rates of new HIV cases have begun to decrease minimally among young people, but the rates remain stable or are increasing among people in their 30s. About one-third of people who need antiretrovirals are getting the drugs (Nolen, Globe and Mail, 12/22/07).
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This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.