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Editorials and Commentary

AIDS Epidemic's Next Stop: Eurasia

November 12, 2002

"Our position is: The AIDS epidemic continues to rage, threatening to become a true biological weapon of mass destruction.

"The AIDS epidemic, already a human catastrophe, is getting worse.

"Beyond all of the death and misery the disease has wreaked in sub-Saharan Africa where 20 million people have died, AIDS is now surging in Asia and Europe.

"The National Intelligence Council predicts that the next big wave of AIDS will hit Russia, China, India, Nigeria and Ethiopia, five nations with 40 percent of the world's population, 10 million of whom are already infected.

"Since the AIDS virus became prevalent in the mid-1980s, it's had a staggering effect: 25 million deaths, 65 million infected and more than 15 million children orphaned. Though the war against terrorism has received much of the media's attention, the looming AIDS pandemic poses a devastating threat to human existence.

"... For its part, the United States' commitment to the battle against HIV/AIDS has been inadequate. Global AIDS Alliance has put forth a plan calling on the 47 wealthiest nations, led by the United States, to fund 90 percent of the Global AIDS Fund budget. The other 10 percent would come from the private sector. The United States has pledged $200 million for 2003, which falls way short of the $1.4 billion the AIDS Fund recommends it contribute.

"Russia, where up to 2 million people carry the virus, spent a mere $6 million to fight AIDS last year. Alarmingly, Russian prisons, which released 300,000 convicts in 2000, are incubators for contagious diseases such as HIV and drug-resistant tuberculosis.

"Any large outbreak of AIDS and TB in Nigeria or Ethiopia would weaken their important leadership roles in the region. Their fragile economies would have difficulty absorbing the loss of business professionals, economic growth and foreign investment to attacks from infectious diseases.

"India is estimated to have at least 4 million infected with HIV and China 2 million. Neither country can afford to ignore the spread of a disease that could strain their resources and mushroom into a national crisis in short order.

"The world must adopt a comprehensive plan to fight AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis or face the increasing likelihood that they will continue to spread. We must see AIDS for what it is: a weapon of mass destruction."

Back to other CDC news for November 12, 2002

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Adapted from:
Indianapolis Star

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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