The onslaught of AIDS is denting the prospects for economic development too. In the hard-hit countries of Africa, the epidemic is decimating a limited pool of skilled workers and managers and eating away at the economy. With many economies in the region in flux, it is hard to determine exactly what the impact of HIV is on national economies as a whole. However, it is clear that businesses are already beginning to suffer.
In Zimbabwe, for instance, life insurance premiums quadrupled in just two years because of AIDS deaths. Some companies say that their health bills have doubled. Several report that AIDS costs absorb as much as one-fifth of company earnings. In Tanzania and Zambia, large companies have reported that AIDS illness and death cost more than their total profits for the year. In Botswana, companies estimate that AIDS-related costs will soar from under 1% of the wage bill now to 5% in six years’ time, because of the rapid rise in infection in the last few years.