Artillery: August 16, 2004


The South African army is currently undergoing a reduction in strength from 100,000 to 70,000. Meanwhile, the army is suffering from additional losses because of the high rate of AIDS infection among the troops. Since soldiers cannot be forced to take an AIDS test, the infection rate has to be estimated. It is known that the rate is nearly 30 percent among the general population. The rate for the military is estimated as between 23 and 40 percent. At present, about two percent of the troops are out sick on any work day because of AIDS related illness, and there is a greater loss in efficiency among many other troops because of low energy levels and weakness. The army is trying to encourage voluntary testing by offering free treatment. Of the troops who have been voluntarily tested so far, 89 percent had the AIDs virus. The army is trying to encourage troops to avoid getting AIDS. Aside from living longer, those without AIDS are eligible for lucrative peacekeeping assignments. Once soldiers contract AIDS, they lose an average of 20 workdays a year. If the virus leads to full blown AIDS, the average loss is about half the workdays in a year. Most African armed forces are suffering from AIDS related losses.


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