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Pandemics: A Systems View of HIV/AIDS


Read or download the full Thematic Research Highlights Report [pdf].

The complete white paper looks at the implications of HIV/AIDS on Brazil, Russia, India and China, with a particular focus on the macro implications for GDP growth, the second-order impacts of the pandemic, and an analysis of best practice corporate response.


Next to a widespread avian flu pandemic, HIV is the single biggest existing global public health challenge. AIDS kills 8,000 people a day—the equivalent of 20 jumbo jets crashing daily. Presently there are approximately 40.3 million people worldwide living with HIV, almost half of them women. While 65% of all HIV cases are in Sub-Saharan Africa, HIV/AIDS is increasingly an economic growth challenge in BRIC economies—Brazil, Russia, India and China—which account for over 42% of the world's population. Given economic, social and political factors, the disease has the potential to migrate to the general population in these regions. Despite the rapid spread of the disease in emerging economies, 70% of the world's largest transnational companies still do not have policies or programs on HIV/AIDS. (UNAIDS 2004 Report)


Pandemics such as HIV/AIDS have the ability to erode the stable operating environmental for business over a long-term time horizon. This poses both risks and opportunities for businesses, depending upon their level of geographic exposure and level of management commitment to the issue.

Sample Investment Ideas

  • Industrial sector: worker health, direct and indirect management of pandemic risk, strong stakeholder management and community involvement, ability to build public private partnerships.
  • Financials sector: integration of pandemic risk into investment processes, micro-lending facilities in developing countries, premium for pandemic insurance.
  • Consumer sector: supply chain management in HIV-prevalent areas, Base of the Pyramid markets, discretionary spending, HIV/AIDS as a philanthropic cause to motivate employees, awareness building and education.
  • Healthcare sector: access in developing countries, patents in developing countries, generics, new models for healthcare delivery.
  • Telecom, Technology and Sofware sector: just-in-time delivery model could be jeopardized by rising absenteeism, disruptions in labor supply from sickness, and retraining.

Business Quality—Direct/Indirect and Internal/External

Geographic Exposure of Business: Depending upon business model, the impact of HIV/AIDS on Business Quality can be assessed by looking at direct and indirect costs for business as well as exposure of earnings to at-risk geographic regions.

chart showing the internal and external impacts of HIV/AIDS on business