So you thought the battle with AIDS was almost over? think again

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So you thought the battle with AIDS was almost over? think again


The HIV/AIDS pandemic will get much more dire before it gets better, even in Africa. Worldwide, it will not peak for another 40 to 50 years. It cannot be contained; our armory is ineffective.

In country after country, it will devastate populations, especially the urbanized skilled and educated classes, much as the Khmer Rouge did in Cambodia.

However, whereas the killing in Cambodia stopped after several years, the killing from HIV/AIDS will go on and on, racking nations with the ferocity of half a century of Khmer Rouge rule.

Myth: HIV appears to be under control in the United States.

Fact: The domestic epidemics in the wealthy countries continue to grow and increasingly afflict poor, heterosexual women.

We do hear that HIV/AIDS is causing lots of deaths in Africa, but Africans have always died in large numbers from infections.

Myth: If Africans would only get a grip on their political and economic systems, they could sort this out as we have.

Fact: Even a well- governed African country would be unable, if unassisted, to mount the scale of response necessary. Indeed, even we haven't been able to do that.

The worst-hit countries are in Africa. In parts of southern Africa, one out of every three adults is infected with HIV; without access to modern drugs, most will be dead within five years.

Ten million children have been orphaned by AIDS, enough to populate a country the size of Belgium and the figure will quadruple in this decade. Teachers in parts of southern Africa are lost to HIV/AIDS at twice the rate they are trained.

Disease and premature death among farm workers is contributing to famine and starvation. Economic growth and foreign investment are stunted by the lost productivity of local companies. And the ranks of health-care workers and the military are being depleted in even the wealthiest African states.

Horrifyingly, the worst is still to come.

The presidents of Botswana and Malawi have predicted the demise of their countries if much more is not done.

Further north, the most populous sub-Saharan African countries, Ethiopia and Nigeria, are in earlier stages of their epidemics. These countries have yet to see the virus wreak its full devastation.

Meanwhile, the epicenter of the disease is moving east. Within a decade, India and China will have half of all the HIV-positive people in the world.

The denial that we have seen in Africa is now happening in Asia, a denial fed by the myth of cultural immunity and by the naive belief that "it can't happen to us."

The CIA, recognizing AIDS as a national security issue, projects HIV infection rates for India that indicate that HIV will kill many more people than would a full-scale war with Pakistan.
By netchicken: posted on 12-1-2003

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