More than 3 million people around the world are unable to work because of illnesses caused by HIV, according to a report released on World AIDS Day by the United Nations International Labour Organization, which stated that better treatment for HIVers would bring significant benefits for the global economy.
The report concludes that almost 25 million paid workers live with HIV, and an additional 11 million HIVers are engaged in some form of productive activity, such as women working in the home.
The situation is worst in sub-Saharan Africa; in 2005 three quarters of the 3 million global labor force participants who were partially or fully unable to work because of AIDS came from that region. The report also finds that the pandemic is stifling economic growth in countries hit hardest by HIV, resulting in an annual net loss of 1.3 million jobs worldwide.
The report stresses that these problems will only worsen unless people living in sub-Saharan Africa and other afflicted regions have much greater access to antiretroviral treatment. 'The prospect of averting between one fifth and one quarter of potential new losses to the labor force should serve as a powerful incentive to target the workplace as a major entry point to achieve universal access to antiretrovirals,' the report's authors state.