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Social Security and HIV/AIDS: Assessing "Disability" in the Context of ARV Treatment

Year: 2004
Working paper number: 099
Author: Simchowitz, Brett
Unit: ASRU

Despite its less-than-stellar implementation, the South African government's 2003 commitment to providing free antiretroviral therapy to those with AIDS has both provided hope to the many infected while at the same time highlighting the gross inadequacies of the current welfare system's design. Examining circumstances in the Western Cape is a useful way of exploring the relationship between poverty and HIV/AIDS, as well as the role of government welfare programmes in influencing the success or failure of prevention and treatment interventions. This paper attempts to outline the shortfalls of the current social safety net in South Africa and the particular effects of those inadequacies on people suffering with HIV and AIDS. It focuses specifically on the disability grant in the Western Cape province, arguing that, in the absence of comprehensive unemployment benefits or a universal basic income grant, a broader redefinition of disability is needed that takes into account social factors in addition to a medical diagnosis. Finally, future legislation is evaluated, and potential solutions are suggested and critiqued.

Publication file: wp99.pdf