Table of Contents

An important message to the person finding out that they are infected is that a healthy, continued life is possible (don’t give up!) Studies point to the enormous difference made by nutrition, basic food safety, adequate sleep and a positive attitude. And ARV medication holds out a lifeline.


1. Overview

With only 0.7% of the world’s population, South Africa carries almost one-fifth of the global HIV carriers. The situation in neighbouring states is not much better. HIV/AIDS is a national and also a regional issue.

Farm workers are the most under-serviced labourers in South Africa. Poor access to health care and health-related information is partly due to their remote location of work. The high incidence of poverty and low level of education makes the farm worker even more vulnerable to the impact of HIV and AIDS. And lack of awareness is compounded by high levels of stigma around the issue, a problem because the stigma severely tests and often severs the safety net of support from village and extended family. Workers are scared to test and fear that they might be HIV positive. Unfortunately not knowing your status and not testing will not remedy this situation.

Farmers often don’t know where to turn to in order to help their workers. Losing skilled workers has a significant impact on productivity, but there are also social challenges. How do you deal with a household that is now without an income? And what if there are orphans that are left behind?

The cost of HIV/AIDS is largely borne by rural communities. Infected urban dwellers often return to their villages of origin where rural households (particularly women) provide most of the care. The rural families pick up the bill for food, medical costs and funeral expenses.

The burden of the socio-economic impact disproportionately affects rural women. Widows become poorer as they lose access to land, property, inputs, credit and support services.

The impact on children is severe as the increasing number of orphans bring the coping mechanisms of many extended families to breaking point. Withdrawal from school, a decrease in food intake, a decline in inherited assets and less attention from caretakers are among the adverse effects of the epidemic on children.

Adapted from Topouzis, Addressing the Impact of HIV/AIDS on Ministries of Agriculture: Focus on Eastern and Southern Africa.


2.   International business environment

The third of the global goals agreed to by governments in 2015, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), has to do with health.

The UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets stipulate that by 2020 90% of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status, 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy (ART), and 90% of all people receiving ART will have viral load suppression.

Some international role players

  • Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC)
  • The African Comprehensive HIV/AIDS Partnerships (ACHAP) at
  • www.africaid-zvandiri.orgAfricaaid works with HIV positive children and adolescents in Zimbabwe.
  • AIDS Healthcare
  • Read “The impact of HIV/AIDS on agriculture and food security” on the FAO website at
  • The Global Fund to fight HIV/
  • For a global database on how HIV/AIDS is viewed (there are restrictions in some countries), see
  • International AIDS Society (IAS) is “the world’s largest association of HIV professionals” with members from more than 180 countries. See
  • Read about the International Labour Organisation’s Programme on HIV/AIDS at
  • Men Star Coalition The aim of this organisation founded in 2018 is “to expand the diagnoses and treatment of HIV infections in men – keys to breaking the cycle of HIV transmission and ultimately ending the AIDS epidemic as a public health threat by 2030”.
  • Population
  • Population Services International (PSI)
  • Society for AIDS in Africa
  • Southern Africa HIV and AIDS information Dissemination Service (SAfAIDS) is based in Zimbabwe with country offices in South Africa, Swaziland and Zambia –
  • The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) Find the latest statistics here and news on the progress against HIV and AIDS.
  • USAID through PEPFAR has subsidised the NPOs who do HIV testing, and many of these offer Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) free-of-charge in the rural areas. Visit
  • The World Health Organisation (WHO)