The International Labour Office (ILO) predicts that The Bahamas will lose over $5.8 million in earnings due to death and withdrawal from the labor force attributable to AIDS in 2020.
The statistics were revealed in an ILO study released earlier this year, entitled, “The impact of HIV and AIDS on the world of work: Global estimates”.
“The majority of people living with or affected by HIV are of working age,” the study notes.
“Understanding the consequences of HIV and AIDS on the labor force, on productivity and on economic growth is, therefore, essential.
“This report is the result of extensive research undertaken to assess the impact of HIV and AIDS on the world of work, with the aim of providing ILO constituents and other stakeholders with quantitative information to inform policy responses.
“…The findings are sobering. For example: the number of people living with HIV in the labor force has continued to increase(internationally), and will reach 29.9 million in 2020.
“AIDS will cost a projected $7.2 billion USD in lost earnings (internationally). Almost half a million labor-force deaths projected for 2020 are almost entirely avoidable. While significant strides have been made in the AIDS response, major gaps remain, which need to be addressed urgently.”
According to the study, in the Bahamas there was $6,697,363 in lost earnings due to death and withdrawal from the labor force attributable to AIDS in 2015, compared to $6,830,465 in 2010 and $7,773,408 in 2005.
The study estimates that there will be $5,836,297 in lost earnings in 2020.
In 2015, there were 7,040 people in the labor force living with HIV, compared to 6,468 in 2010 and 5,383 in 2005.
The ILO estimates that there will be 7,887 people living with HIV in the labor force in 2020.
There were 34 individuals fully unable to work due to AIDS symptoms in 2015, compared to 41 in 2010 and 52 in 2005.
The ILO estimates that there will be 27 individuals fully unable to work due to AIDS symptoms in 2020.
In 2015, 279 labor force deaths were attributable to AIDS in The Bahamas, compared to 261 in 2010 and 257 in 2015.
The study estimates that there will be 216 labor force deaths attributable to AIDS in 2020.
The ILO calculations are based on UNAIDS 2016 estimates.
One hundred and fifty-one people were diagnosed with HIV in The Bahamas in 2017, 80 percent of whom resided in New Providence, and 70 percent of whom were Bahamians, according to Fort Charlotte MP Mark Humes.
The Bahamas has embarked on the 90-90-90 initiative which is a part of UNAIDS global action plan of embarking on fast-track strategies to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030.
The initiative sets out to ensure that 90 percent of people living with HIV know their HIV status; 90 percent of people living with HIV and eligible for treatment are on antiretroviral therapy; and 90 percent of people living with HIV on treatment achieve viral suppression.
According to the National HIV/AIDS Strategic Plan, the 90-90-90 initiative is a fast-track target for The Bahamas for 2020.
The Bahamas, along with countries around the world, will celebrate World AIDS Day on December 1.
Education: Vrije Universiteit Brussel (University of Brussels), MA in Mass Communications