Institutions of higher education throughout Africa face a major and, in many instances, an escalating threat from HIV/AIDS. Prevalence levels among staff and students are not well documented, but there are reports of systems whose operations are becoming increasingly affected by absenteeism and deaths. The frequency of staff absences increases because of periodic bouts of illness during the HIV stage of the disease; these absences become more prolonged and virtually permanent when the disease has progressed to full-blown AIDS. Student absences also occur, but these may be less noteworthy, partly because students, being mostly young, are more likely to be in the relatively early stages of infection, partly because the evidence suggests that when they become ill many students may withdraw altogether from their studies. Staff and student absenteeism also arises from attending the funerals of fellow staff members, students, members of one's family, and members of one's community. It has been estimated for industry that absenteeism due to HIV accounts for some 37 percent of the increased AIDS-related costs to an institution, absenteeism due to AIDS accounts for 15 percent, and funeral attendance by employees accounts for 6 percent (Whiteside & Sunter, 2000). Higher education institutions may well be experiencing similar costs, but almost none are equipped with HIV/AIDS sensitive management information systems that allow these to be quantified.
The African Symposium - An On-line Educational Research Journal Vol. 2 No.1 March 2002
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