Background/issues The HIV and AIDS epidemic constitutes not only the worst scourge and onslaught with which peoples in resource-limited places must contend; It also occurs in a context in which the effects of the epidemic and key issues which they engender are juxtaposed with a multiplicity of societal problems. Many high HIV/AIDS prevalence countries apparently remain unconvinced of the longer term impact of this epidemic, and have not yet developed strategies to cope with the obvious and incontrovertible impact of HIV and AIDS. Impact mitigation of HIV and AIDS is not high on the agenda of the many organisations which are involved in mounting a response to this epidemic. These organisations have assumed HIV/AIDS to be a public health issue and failed in many cases to recognise it for the socio-economic development challenge it more properly represents. Empirical research findings and Observations/In resource poor settings, greed and avarice of the political leadership overwhelms their responsibilities take urgent action to mitigate HIV/AIDS impact. There are small islands of dazzling abundance which exist side by side with a cheerless ocean of absolute poverty, dehumanising HIV/AIDS high prevalence rate and wide-scale social exclusion. Africa's famed traditional extended family system, exemplary at absorbing members under stress, is confronted with HIV and AIDS impact on every constituent part of its network and may reach breaking point without some assistance. This strain may have the effect of not only accelerating the reversal of development gains of the last decade but of fragmenting the very societal structure that has so far sustained marginal societies.
Conclusions/policy implications There's the pressing moral, social, political and economic imperative to scale up the impact mitigation of HIV/AIDS among residents of poor areas. The immediate focus of managing the crisis of HIV and AIDS in resource-limited settings will impact every aspect of multi-sectoral, systemic functioning, response. The advent of a vastly improved prognosis of new classes of ARV drugs and their use in combination can dramatically improve rates of mortality and morbidity, prolonged lives, improved quality of life, revitalised communities and transformed perceptions of HIV/AIDS from a plague to a manageable, chronic illness in resource poor settings.