The Economics of HIV/AIDS - The Barbados Situation

By Pastor Dale Brathwaite - Elohim Family Centre.

Would you allow yourself to be another statistic or live life the God intended way?

This data being worked with is taken from HIV/AIDS Surveillance in Barbados Cumulative HIV, AIDS and Death statistics from 1984 to June 2007 (Ministry of Health, Barbados)

The total number of HIV/AIDS positive cases = 3376

Total number of AIDS cases = 2059

Total number of HIV deaths = 1224 (40%)

HIV cases living (at the end of June 2007) = 2041 (60%)

Working with these figures in terms of the economic cost of a person living with AIDS/HIV (PLWA) in Barbados is estimated to be around $ 490, 000. 00. This is made up of the following minus minimal burial fees of $ 2500.00 - $ 5000.00 plus depending on the severity of the case for hospitalization it would be an estimate cost of $10, 000.00 for a three week period which adds up to Barbados $502, 500.00 without the cost to family care in visitations to the hospital etc.

Family, before I complicate our minds we shall simply work with the $ 490, 000. 00. and prove how we got there.

- From birth to 16 years, the government spends an average of $ 160,
000.00 on an individual;

- The average PLWA survives for approximately 12 and a half years (150 months). This costs the government a further $60, 000.00 in retroviral care which is the period of AIDS until death;

- According to the data, the average age of a newly diagnosed case is 37 years, and as said above the PLHIV is expected to live for a further 12 and a half years. i.e. an expected age of 50 years. This individual ought to have lived to an age of 74 years. Therefore the individual should have contributed a further 15 years to the

- If we assume an average monthly income of $1, 500.00 or $18,000.00 per year, then over the 15 year period the individual would have earned $270, 000.00 in today's prices. In essence, a PLHIV is a major cost/loss to the economy and by extension the society.

- Let us go further, according to reported data as stated above, the number of HIV positive cases is approximately 1.23% of the total population of Barbados estimated at 274, 200. However, the authorities believe that this figure has to be multiplied by 5 (five) to represent a reality (the probable/unknown factors or undiagnosed).

Furthermore, between 1984 and June 2007, the reported deaths from AIDS are around 40% (1335) of the reported HIV positive cases. However, since 2001 the rate of cumulative deaths from AIDS has slowed, perhaps the result of government's retroviral care and education campaigns.

- This success will mean greater cost to government and therefore more resources will have to be allocated to future programmes of government; ultimately the society will pay for such programmes and by extension social conduct.

- Notwithstanding some success, AIDS remains a major problem for the Barbadian society and economy. This is reflected in the reported cases of persons living with HIV/AIDS which are approximately 2041 as at June 2007. Therefore, a reality could be as many as 10, 205 cases of persons with HIV/AIDS in Barbados which represents 3.7% of the total population. Keep in mind that if the mean age was lower, the cost would be even higher with the life expectancy ratio added in. Additionally it was observed that we have persons with HIV younger
than 10 and older than 70+.

Resulting from our figures we could therefore be working with $490, 000.00 or just over half million dollars for a risky 5 -10 minutes sexual encounter, at best for some of us men. What I have failed to mention is the mushrooming socio-economic impact of wards or spouses as a result of HIV/AIDS.

Let us break down this concept a little further. Do you know that we pay more  financially in terms of total HIV/AIDS care, especially looking through the eyes of life expectancy, than Barbados has people. For example, if every person gives one dollar we would still have a financial deficit if we calculate our current population as 274, 200 persons. The deficit could read 500, 000 - 274, 200 = $ 225, 800 or using the 490, 000 ? 274, 200 = $ 215, 800. The abstinence before marriage and marital fidelity during marriage is still works out cheaper for most mortgages at a repayment of $2100 per month.

By Pastor Dale Brathwaite - Elohim Family Centre.

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