- The AIDS epidemic is now so widespread globally that
it could help to destroy foreign governments and contribute to ethnic wars,
a United States study has found.
- "At least some of the hardest-hit countries, initially
in sub-Saharan Africa and later in other regions, will face a demographic
catastrophe," says a National Intelligence estimate study by government
- "This will further impoverish the poor and often
the middle-class and produce a huge and impoverished orphan cohort unable
to cope and vulnerable to exploitation and radicalisation."
- Based on historical analysis of 75 factors that tend
to destabilise governments, the authors said the social consequences of
AIDS appeared to have "a particularly strong correlation with the
likelihood of state failure in partial democracies".
- The analysts estimate that one African in four is likely
to die from an AIDS-related illness, that the numbers will continue to
rise for 10 years and that the disaster could be repeated in South Asia
and the former Soviet Union.
- This would "challenge democratic development and
transitions and possibly contribute to humanitarian emergencies and military
conflicts to which the US needs to respond".
- The World Health Organi-sation (WHO) says that 23 million
people are infected with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa and that new HIV infections
are running at about 5,000 a day.
- Deaths from AIDS were expected to leave about 40 million
children orphaned, and throughout the region, infant mortality was expected
to double and child mortality to triple, WHO said.
- "The thing that's most staggering and people are
just beginning to grasp is that Africa is just the tip of the iceberg,"
said Ms Sandra Thurman, co-chairman of a White House working party set
up to find initiatives to fight the disease, and due to produce draft proposals
- "At the end of the end, this global pandemic will
make the bubonic plague of the Middle Ages pale in comparison unless our
response is finally commensurate with the magnitude of the problem."
- President Bill Clinton has doubled to $US254 million
($436 million) his budget requests for funds to tackle HIV/AIDS overseas,
but the United Nations says $US2 billion is needed for HIV prevention in
Africa alone and as much again for treatment.
- Even Vice-President Al Gore's national security adviser,
Mr Leon Fuerth, concedes that the money does not match the task for which
it is intended.
- "The numbers of people who are dying, the impact
on elites like the army, the educated people, the teachers, is quite high,"
- Another factor mobilising the US response is African
American leaders, such as former representative Ron Dellums and Representative
Jesse Jackson jnr, who have adopted the cause of AIDS in Africa.
- Their interest is converging with that of long-standing
AIDS activists in the US and Europe, where the course of the epidemic has
been slowed by preventive efforts and life-saving combinations of anti-retroviral
drugs. They are angry at policies that price those medicines beyond the
reach of the developing world.
- One way in which the worst affected countries might be
helped is by allowing them to make or import generic versions of drugs
patented by pharmaceutical companies.
- SIGHTINGS HOMEPAGE
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