Business Day
, October 24 2002, HIV/Aids Pandemic Set to Knock SA Car Sales 

By Larry Claasen, Industrial Reporter

THE HIV/AIDS pandemic is set to knock domestic car sales, and it is also blamed in part for a decline in foreign direct investment into the country.

With nearly 5000 AIDS-related deaths a week, "vast numbers" of potential new vehicle customers were dying and still going to die, motor industry economist Neal Bruton said at the Auto Africa Expo 2002.

He said a reduction in disposable income, together with increased spending on medical care, would hurt South Africans' ability to finance new vehicle purchases.

A BusinessMap investor survey released in January found that the spread of HIV/AIDS in SA contributed significantly to the decline in foreign direct investment.

Bruton said ING Barings estimated that by 2015 nearly 9% of the country's highly skilled labour force and 19% of all skilled labourers would be infected with HIV.

The pandemic would also affect the workplace in terms of recruitment, staffing, training and retraining requirements, productivity, medical aid benefits, retirement schemes and occupational health-care provision.

National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of SA chairman Ian Robertson said the industry needed to address HIV/AIDS by providing treatment and counselling. Provision of drugs was a more cost-effective solution than the loss of productivity from absenteeism and retraining.