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This desk study was commissioned by NORAD to review recent literature on socio-economic consequences of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa with focus on Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. The report gives a general socio-economic overview and identifies some issues of importance for Norway's assistance to the five focus countries. It is hoped that the report will provide useful background material for development assistance officials and other interested parties. Overall, the report argues that for the countries focused, the present decade will be the worst ever with regard to AIDS morbidity and mortality. The exception is Uganda, which was early at launching an effective anti-AIDS campaign. The report stresses the severe long-term consequences of the pandemic but finds little evidence of attempts to explore future socio-economic effects emanating from profound changes in population structures. It is recommended that Norway offers support to countries which attempt to explore the future demographic and societal effects of AIDS. Since the population in the focus countries is already poor and vulnerable, the pandemic will be serious for these countries. The poorer households and in particular women and children are likely to be worst affected. Agricultural production, of key importance for incomes and food supply, is set to drop from already low levels. Families and communities break apart and young people's future becomes insecure. The manufacturing sector, transport, mining, construction, tourism and the financial sector will be hit in various ways. Recent studies of African countries looking at key determinants of long-term growth indicate considerable reductions in the growth rate of GDP per capita as a result of the AIDS pandemic. The study argues that the fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa must come at the top of national and international agendas mainly because AIDS is now the biggest killer in Africa and hits the most productive segment of the population. It is stressed that the amount of resources for the fight against HIV/AIDS will increase. Efforts will have to be mainstreamed in public sector planning and budgeting. It is important that Norway assists the most affected countries to improve resource flow monitoring, to learn from each other by using the diversity in anti-AIDS strategy and integrate their planning and management of the crisis into country planning frameworks.