Health and Aging in Africa: A Longitudinal Study of an INDEPTH Community in South Africa (HAALSI)

Cardiovascular and metabolic disease burdens are projected to more than double over the next 20 years in Sub-Saharan Africa. While high rates of HIV prevalence have caused reductions in life expectancy in many countries, the increasing availability of antiretroviral treatment (ART) is beginning to reverse the declines. Little is understood about the nature of aging in the region, where life expectancies were relatively short even before the HIV epidemic. Today, overall gains in life expectancy due to socioeconomic and health improvements—as well as scale-up of ART—have meant that adults are now experiencing the onset of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases at unforeseen levels.

The Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, in partnership with the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa, were awarded a P01 grant in 2013 from the National Institute on Aging to study the drivers and consequences of HIV and non-communicable diseases in an aging population in Agincourt, South Africa.

The Health and Aging Study in Africa: A Longitudinal Study of an INDEPTH Community in South Africa (HAALSI) is led by an interdisciplinary team of collaborators from:

Our working hypothesis is that ill health and disability are major factors in determining:

household composition • household income & expenditure • labor force participation • subjective well-being

By surveying and testing a cohort of Agincourt residents for HIV infection and cardiometabolic disease risk factors, and then integrating that data with mortality data from the well-established INDEPTH Health and Demographic Surveillance System (HDSS) data at the MRC/Wits Agincourt research site, our aim is to identify the effects of ill health and disability on the economic well-being and productivity of this older SSA population. Please visit the HAALSI website for more information.