Work and home productivity of people living with HIV in Zambia and South Africa

Ranjeeta Thomas, Rocco Friebel, Kerrie Barker, Lawrence Mwenge, Sarah Kanema, Nosivuyile Vanqa, Abigail Harper, Nomtha Bell-Mandla, Peter C. Smith, Sian Floyd, Peter Bock, Helen Ayles, Sarah Fidler, Richard Hayes, Katharina Hauck*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To compare number of days lost to illness or accessing healthcare for HIV-positive and HIV-negative individuals working in the informal and formal sectors in South Africa and Zambia.Design:As part of the HPTN 071 (PopART) study, data on adults aged 18-44 years were gathered from cross-sectional surveys of random general population samples in 21 communities in Zambia and South Africa. Data on the number of productive days lost in the last 3 months, laboratory-confirmed HIV status, labour force status, age, ethnicity, education, and recreational drug use was collected.Methods:Differences in productive days lost between HIV-negative and HIV-positive individuals ('excess productive days lost') were estimated with negative binomial models, and results disaggregated for HIV-positive individuals after various durations on antiretroviral treatment (ART).Results:From samples of 19330 respondents in Zambia and 18004 respondents in South Africa, HIV-positive individuals lost more productive days to illness than HIV-negative individuals in both countries. HIV-positive individuals in Zambia lost 0.74 excess productive days [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.48-1.01; P<0.001] to illness over a 3-month period. HIV-positive in South Africa lost 0.13 excess days (95% CI 0.04-0.23; P=0.007). In Zambia, those on ART for less than 1 year lost most days, and those not on ART lost fewest days. In South Africa, results disaggregated by treatment duration were not statistically significant.Conclusion:There is a loss of work and home productivity associated with HIV, but it is lower than existing estimates for HIV-positive formal sector workers. The findings support policy makers in building an accurate investment case for HIV interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1063-1071
Number of pages9
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019

Bibliographical note

© 2019 The Author(s).


  • absenteeism
  • economics
  • informal sector
  • labour productivity
  • sickness days

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