- LANGLEY, Va. -- A wave of
HIV/AIDS cases sweeping through five of the world's most populated countries
could, by 2010, swell the global case toll by 80 million new cases, says
a report released Monday by the CIA.
- The report, The Next Wave of HIV/AIDS: Nigeria, Ethiopia,
Russia, India and China, is the latest to warn that the AIDS epidemic will
expand far beyond its epicenter in sub-Saharan Africa, weakening other
countries and carving a swath through their most productive citizens.
- All of the next-wave countries are "of strategic
importance" to the USA and "major global or regional players,"
warns the report by the National Intelligence Council, a think tank that
serves the director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
- By 2010, it says, these five countries will experience
a surge of 50-75 million new HIV/AIDS cases, "eclipsing" the
30-35 million projected in central and southern Africa. Currently there
are 40 million HIV-positive people worldwide.
- Taken together, the five countries account for 40% of
the world's population, and their governments haven't made AIDS a priority,
says the report, an unclassified version of a secret assessment.
- David Gordon of the CIA's directorate of intelligence
says each country could limit the epidemic's impact with aggressive prevention
campaigns. "These projections aren't destiny," Gordon said. "At
the same time, they are not worst-case scenarios."
- Although the CIA projections are 15-20 million higher
than those by the United Nation's Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS),
officials downplayed the differences. "This is by no means an exact
science," says Desmond Johns of UNAIDS.
- There's no disagreement, Johns says, on the report's
key point. "These five countries are major geopolitical players,"
he says. "The global impact of AIDS in these countries may far outweigh
what we've seen in (southern) Africa so far."
- The report also predicts:
- Nigeria and Ethiopia will be hardest hit, with a social
and economic impact similar to African countries that are further south.
"Both countries are key to regional stability and the rise in HIV/AIDS
will strain their governments." Nigerian oil helps reduce U.S. dependence
on oil from the Persian Gulf.
- Russia, which is rapidly losing population, will suffer
an even faster decline. Public health, at its lowest point since World
War II, will get far worse.
- China and India will bear a heavy burden of health and
social costs, but the disease's economic and political impact is likely
to be blunted by huge populations.