Hiv/aids, Crime and Security in Southern Africa

Article excerpt

Abstract

HIV/AIDS, crime, security and governance are linked issues in the region of Southern Africa. According to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and World Health Organisation (WHO), sub-Saharan Africa is home to approximately 10 percent of the world's population and 2/3 of this population is infected with HIV. Within sub-Saharan Africa, Southern Africa remains the world's most affected region: globally, 32% of people with HIV live in this sub-region and 34% of AIDS deaths occur within this region as well. Infection rates in Southern Africa indicate that huge numbers of people will die over the next 10 years, thus affecting the basic functioning of society. The skills and human resources needed for an effective government will become scarce. The HIV/AIDS pandemic has become an issue no less destructive than warfare itself. It is recognised that 'health' is part of the fabric of what constitutes a country's security, not only due to the impact a disease can pose to a state's stability, but also to the state's ability to maintain internal stability and external security. This situation has called for the attention of the international community to assist Southern African governments, especially during conflict situations and humanitarian emergencies. In addition, selected sections of personal interviews with four South African experts on AIDS-related issues have been included in this manuscript in order to clarify some theoretical aspects.

Key Words: HIV/AIDS ; Crime ; Security ; Southern Africa

Introduction

The main issue addressed in this manuscript is focused in the HIV/AIDS pandemic as a security threat in Southern Africa. The term security has often assumed the meaning of 'national security'. National security can refer to safety, the likelihood of the absence of war, the likelihood of negotiations rather than belligerence, and the preservation of peace as the normal condition for some people within the same society, but not for others (Maxted, 2001). Specific attention is paid to the human security concept, a new concept which appeared in the 1994 Human Development Report, an annual publication of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), which equates security with people rather than territories, with development rather than weapons (UNAIDS, 2002).

Methods

The study reported here seeks to address the connections between health, crime, security and governance in the Southern Africa region. The study was conducted as a means of raising issues and promoting future research rather than developing conclusive findings. Data were collected through two sources: (1) a review of literature; and (2) personal interviews with four AIDS-related experts. These interviews were part of a series of fifteen face-to-face interviews that were conducted in order to complete my doctoral thesis.

Through the review of the literature, I was able to compile a list of fifteen South African experts on AIDSrelated issues. I contacted each respondent by phone and arranged meetings to be conducted in the proximity of the work environment of each of the respondents. Each interview lasted approximately 40-50 minutes. The interviews were structured and guided by the use of an openended questionnaire which was the result of an operational formulation of research hypothesis in topics and thematic dimensions.

In total, the questionnaire consisted of 15 questions. The interviewer read the questions to the respondents and recorded their responses on a tape recorder. The data collected during the interview were qualitatively analysed to extract any specific themes that may have been present among respondents' answers.

AIDS orphans threat

The HIV/AIDS epidemic has modified the demographic structure of Southern Africa (Heuveline, 2004). The most devastating effect of the epidemic has been the creation of a generation of orphans2 (UNICEF, 2003). At the end of 2003, the AIDS epidemic had left behind approximately fifteen millions of orphans. …