Disability and HIV: What drives this relationship in Eastern and Southern Africa?
The Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) region is the epicentre of the global HIV epidemic and also home to a large number of people with disabilities. Both HIV and Disability are significant public health issues. While they are generally viewed as distinct and unrelated phenomena data seems to suggest that they are particularly closely intertwined in ESA. For the first time in history, by using the same disability indicator consistently, the publication of the World Report on Disability in 2011 has allowed for the comparison of disability data between countries, and across regions. This has the potential to shed some light on the relationship between disability and socio-economic markers and other health conditions in a way that was not possible previously. In the absence of disability and HIV-specific population based surveys, this paper uses global socio-economic and HIV datasets and compares them to data contained in the most recent World Report on Disability. The analysis suggests that disability prevalence may be related to HIV-prevalence in ESA (Pearson 0.87). It identifies research and policy gaps and seeks to shed light on the relationship between the two phenomena. It concludes that, more than any other region in the world, ESA needs to ensure better data collection on disability and the inclusion of disability throughout its HIV programmes in order to provide a comprehensive and appropriate response to the epidemic.