If your company operates in a developing country, AIDS is your business. While Africa has received the most attention, AIDS is also spreading swiftly in other parts of the world. Russia and Ukraine had the fastest-growing epidemics last year, and many experts believe China and India will suffer the next tidal wave of infection. Why should executives be concerned about AIDS? Because it is destroying the twin rationales of globalization strategy-cheap labor and fast-growing markets--in countries where people are heavily affected by the epidemic. Fortunately, investments in programs that prevent infection and provide treatment for employees who have HIV/AIDS are profitable for many businesses--that is, they lead to savings that outweigh the programs' costs. Due to the long latency period between HIV infection and the onset of AIDS symptoms, a company is not likely to see any of the costs of HIV/AIDS until five to ten years after an employee is infected. But executives can calculate the present value of epidemic-related costs by using the discount rate to weigh each cost according to its expected timing. That allows companies to think about expenses on HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment programs as investments rather than merely as costs. The authors found that the annual cost of AIDS to six corporations in South Africa and Botswana ranged from 0.4% to 5.9% of the wage bill. All six companies would have earned positive returns on their investments if they had provided employees with free treatment for HIV/AIDS in the form of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), according to the mathematical model the authors used. The annual reduction in the AIDS "tax" would have been as much as 40.4%. The authors' conclusion? Fighting AIDS not only helps those infected; it also makes good business sense.
Canada's first AIDS case was diagnosed in 1978, and a total of 2,003 cases had been recorded up to 19 September 1988. Nationwide, 82% of those afflicted have been homosexual or bisexual men, 5% have been immigrants from endemic regions, and 4.6% have been recipients of blood or blood products. Estimates of Canadians infected with HIV range from 10,000 to 50,000. A system of voluntary testing of individuals, combined with anonymous screening of populations for epidemiologic purposes, comprises the HIV testing program in Canada. Most major cities have volunteer AIDS support committees conducting education, advocacy, and support activities; Can$48 million has been allocated to educate the public about AIDS over the next five years. Research and international cooperation are also receiving increased priority and funding.
Present and immediately foreseeable medical knowledge suggest that HIV infection cannot be avoided by vaccination and that an affordable cure for the resulting syndrome, AIDS, is a long way off. There is a strong possibility that Ukraine is confronted by an HIV epidemic which will spread into the general population and that the most common mode of transmission will be through heterosexual intercourse. The epidemic in the Ukraine is currently concentrated among intravenous drug users. It is estimated that between 60,000 and 180,000 people may currently be infected. In present economic and social circumstances there are many features of Ukrainian society that may add to the probability of the epidemic becoming widespread in the general population. It is likely that this process may have already commenced. The result of this will be numerous additional deaths and illness over the short (5 year) (19,000-23,000 deaths), medium (10-15 year) (61,000-111,000), and longer terms (>20 year) (in excess of 40,000-160,000 deaths). The research reported here was undertaken in 1997-8 and describes the potential medium to long term social and economic impact of an HIV/AIDS epidemic in Ukraine. Using the concepts of risk environment, susceptibility and vulnerability, it reports the problems which might be expected to develop in relation to care of excess orphans, the elderly, vulnerable households and regions as well as among those working in the "third sector", a social sector upon which exponents of the importance of developing sound "civil society" in "transitional economies" place heavy emphasis.