The Impact of HIV/AIDS on Voting Participation and Political Affiliation in Six Sub-Saharan African Countries

Audrey Sacks, University of Washington

Today, the fragile states of Southern Africa face a devastating HIV/AIDS epidemic. Unlike other diseases that have threatened societies in the past, HIV/AIDS poses a unique danger to emerging democracies. The current study adds to the research on the social, economic, and political effects of HIV/AIDS by looking at both direct and indirect effects of HIV/AIDS on voting participation and party affiliation in six sub-Saharan countries that hold multiparty elections: South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Ghana, and Cape Verde. I use Afrobarometer data to test theoretically-derived hypotheses about the relationship between HIV/AIDS and political participation. Preliminary results suggest that affected citizens are not withdrawing from the electoral arena. Despite governments’ inability to respond to the crisis, there is evidence that affected citizens are more likely to identify with the party in power. This suggests that the HIV/AIDS crisis has entered the electoral realm but in counter-intuitive ways.

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Presented in Poster Session 5: Health, Mortality, Aging, Biology