Huge AIDS Surge Could Destroy Governments And Start Wars
By Michael Ellison - The Guardian

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 analysts.
"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 this month.
"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," he said.
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.


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