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Intelligence Study Raises Estimate of AIDS Spread

October 1, 2002

The National Intelligence Council predicts that by 2010 the current AIDS epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa may be dwarfed by the five populous countries of India, China, Russia, Nigeria and Ethiopia. The government agency foresees double or triple the estimate of 25 million AIDS cases experts made last summer.

The five nations together contain about 40 percent of the world's population. In each, the AIDS epidemic has barely started or not yet peaked. Other agencies, like UNAIDS and the World Health Organization, questioned the projections, while acknowledging that previous demographic estimates have been too low. "They are applying a worst-case scenario systematically through all of these countries," said Neff Walker, an epidemiologist at UNAIDS.

Richard G.A. Feacham, director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria said, "India is certainly going to experience a massive epidemic, and so will China." He added that India is on an African trajectory, only 15 years behind. In both countries, the national responses are grossly inadequate to begin to confront the wave of devastation and death that is breaking over them.

The 28-page report by the council -- a panel of experts that perform strategic analyses for the president, the Central Intelligence Agency and other governmental agencies -- follows up on a council report released two years ago. Some conclusions include:

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