The HIV epidemic, which has spread rapidly through much of Sub-Saharan Africa, has emerged as one of the greatest threats to human development in South Africa. HIV seroprevalence among pregnant women has increased from less than 2% in 1992 to 22.4% in 19991. It is estimated that between 3.4 - 5.1 million people are currently infected with HIV in South Africa2. Despite the high levels of HIV infections, the number of people with AIDS is still low. This means that AIDS remains a silent disease.While it is easy to see how this burden of infection, and ultimately disease, will affect the health service, the effect of the epidemic on other sectors is not as well recognised or understood. This is especially true of the sectors that are essential to human development, such as education and social services.It was in this context that Abt Associates was approached to conduct an assessment of the potential impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic on the education sector in South Africa.The project started in December 1999, and is near completion. While the objective was to provide an overview of impacts, evaluating the Lifeskills Programme was not included in the scope of work. That subject is part of an ongoing evaluation project.This paper will discuss the methodology that was followed, and some of the key issues that have emerged. Specific findings will not be presented, as the presentations to the Department of Education in South Africa will only take place in October, and consequently the results are not yet in the public domain.
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