Relationships between poverty and AIDS Illness in South Africa: an investigation of urban and rural households in KwaZulu-Natal

Janina Isabel Steinert, Lucie Cluver, G. J. Melendez-Torres, Rocio Herrero Romero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


The association between poverty and HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa remains contested. A better understanding of the relationship between the prevalence of poverty and the disease is essential for addressing prevention, treatment, and care. The present study interrogates this relationship, using a cross-sectional survey of 2477 households in urban and rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Structural equation modelling was employed to estimate the correlations between poverty and AIDS illness. The analysis revealed a correlation of rpb = 0.23, denoting that a higher level of household poverty was associated with a higher likelihood of being AIDS-unwell. Post hoc t-test showed that receipt of a disability grant by AIDS-affected households was associated with significantly lower poverty, compared to AIDS-affected households not receiving the grant, t(654) = 3.67, p <.01. Geographic location was found to confound the correlation: the strength of the relationship between poverty and AIDS was decreased to rpb= 0.15 (p <.001) for the urban and rpb = 0.16 (p <.001) for the rural sub-population. Findings suggest the importance of two sets of policies: those that address the potential upstream risk of poverty through economic interventions, and those that alleviate the impoverishing effects of AIDS illness for affected households.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1183-1199
Number of pages17
JournalGlobal Public Health
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2 Sep 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • poverty
  • poverty measurement
  • structural equation modelling
  • verbal autopsy


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