More than two-thirds of all people living with HIV globally, live in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2014, an estimated 1.4 million people in the region became newly infected, while about 790,000 adults and children died of AIDS in the same period. Within sub-Saharan Africa, Southern Africa is the hardest hit where prevalence rates exceed 20 percent in several countries.
HIV/AIDS lowers immune response making it harder for people to fight off infections. A lack of socio-economic resources and access to basic information on HIV/AIDS often increase chances of contracting the virus. HIV/AIDS has a negative impact on a country’s development. For instance, People Living with AIDS (PLWA) find it difficult to participate in the workforce on a consistent basis due to competing health care needs. Additionally individuals infected with HIV/AIDS are often discriminated against in the workplace, often resulting in their termination or forced resignation. HIV/AIDS has drastically affected the quality of life and development in Southern Africa, making the pandemic a popular topic of concern among citizens in the region.
In many newly-established democracies in Southern Africa, citizen expectations that democracy would deliver improvements in their quality of life have not materialized. Throughout the region, this has contributed to voter dissatisfaction, apathy and in some cases, protests. HIV/AIDS has exposed gaps in service delivery, uneven development, high levels of poverty and a lack of accountability between citizens and political leaders. Although prevalence rates have stabilized in many countries, government responses to HIV/AIDS have remained slow and inadequate and new infections still outpace the response.