Rising unemployment is linked to higher death rates from HIV, according to research published in the Journal of Global Health.
The study, which looked at the effects of the global recession on HIV mortality, also found that increased public health spending helps to reduce deaths from the disease.
A Harvard, Imperial College London and Oxford University-based research group investigated rates of unemployment and HIV deaths across 74 countries (2.19 billion people). They also looked at levels of healthcare spending and HIV deaths in 75 countries (2.22 billion people).
They found that a 1% increase in unemployment was immediately followed by a rise in HIV mortality amongst working-age people: 0.1061 per 100,000 population for men, and 0.0303 per 100,000 population for women.
Increasing public spending on healthcare by 1% was associated with a 0.5015 per 100,000 population drop in HIV deaths for men, and 0.1562 per 100,000 population for women.
The impact of rising unemployment and healthcare spending on HIV deaths were observed up to five years after the event.
HIV is responsible for more global deaths than any other single infectious agent. It mainly affects young, working-age adults. Around 35 million people are currently living with HIV or AIDs.
The authors call for governments to ensure healthcare access for unemployed people, and to protect healthcare spending to decrease HIV mortality rates.
“This study provides further evidence for the influence of social factors on population health. It suggests that the recent economic crisis and associated international governmental responses have not just affected financial wellbeing but may also have had a detrimental effect on physical wellbeing. In the case of HIV, unemployment and declines in healthcare budgets could be associated with increased deaths. It is therefore important that governments consider the health implications of policy reform, be with regard to healthcare or the economy”, says Mr Charlie Zhou, one of the report’s authors.
For more information, please contact Mr Charlie Zhou, University of Oxford (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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