December 12, 2011
HIV is pushing tens of thousands of affected families in Asia into "irreversible poverty," with women and children hit hardest, according to experts with the UN Development Program. The catastrophic health care costs and loss of employment opportunities due to discrimination ensnare many such households in "rapid socioeconomic decline," UNDP recently reported.
Governments in the region should do more to mitigate these problems, said Nicolas Rosellini, UNDP's deputy regional director. "Without intervention, many [HIV-affected families] will slip into irreversible poverty," he said.
Compared to the household average, HIV-burdened families in the region spend up to three times more on health care, said the report. Because it provides widespread antiretroviral therapy, Cambodia is the region's only country where this cost disparity is not as substantial, the report said. The study examined data from 17,000 households across Asia.
HIV-affected households also have more difficulty paying school fees, so the dropout rate for their children is far higher than average, the report noted. HIV-related household economic consequences drive many families into debt traps, locking their children into a lifetime of poverty.
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Agence France Presse
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