HIV/Aids and Human Security: An Agenda for Africa

The objective of the seminar was to consider the links between human security and the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa, and the potential role of African leadership in addressing this crisis. The seminar also sought to devise policy recommendations on this issue in collaboration with the AU, in order to assist the development of a human security perspective for Africa’s new governance and security architecture. The policy advisory group meeting in Addis Ababa was premised on the recognition that, in order to address human security concerns in Africa, it is vital to focus on the HIV/AIDS pandemic currently ravaging the continent. While Africa has faced epidemics in the past, none has had an equivalent impact in terms of the decimation of the productive sectors of society. In 2004, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) estimated that 25.4 million African adults and children were living with HIV/AIDS; 3.1 million more infections occurred and 2.3 million Africans died of HIV/AIDS in the same year. Sub-Saharan Africa is currently home to two-thirds of those living with HIV/AIDS and nearly 74 percent of all AIDS-related deaths in the world. The continent is the only region in the world where more women than men are infected with HIV: 57 percent of all HIV-positive people in Africa are women, and, most worrying, women constitute 76 percent of those between the ages of 15 and 24 who are infected with the disease. The number of deaths from AIDS in Africa by 2020 is set to approach the combined number of military and civilian deaths in the two World Wars of the 20th century. The impact of HIV/AIDS on Africa is already devastating and has widespread social, economic, political, as well as peace and security ramifications. Not only is HIV/AIDS the leading killer of adults in Africa, it is also further entrenching poverty, weakening the productive capacities of countries, overwhelming already over-extended healthcare systems, and threatening both national and continental security. As a result of HIV/AIDS, Africa’s life expectancy has been slashed by 20 years, and its economies are losing billions of dollars annually.