This paper examines the available data on the incidence and spread of AIDS and the associated human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in Africa. Assessments of the impact of the spread of AIDS on African population growth and economic performance are then offered. The interactions with present economic and public health policy receive particular attention. The paper stresses continued emphasis on rural development and greater efforts to control other sexually transmitted diseases along with increased promotion of condoms as means of slowing the spread of AIDS. © 1990.