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International News

Study: AIDS Greater Threat Than Terrorism Globally

July 20, 2005

A Council on Foreign Relations report authored by Laurie Garrett -- a senior fellow at the council and former Pulitzer Prize-winning health reporter for Newsday -- says the AIDS pandemic is a greater threat to international security than terrorism because it weakens economies, government structures, military and police forces, and social structures. Garrett decried a post 9/11 American tendency to "define all national security through the narrow prism of terrorism," noting that, "at a minimum, the HIV pandemic is an enormous stressor that is aggravating laundry lists of underlying tensions in developing, devolving, and failed states."

HIV/AIDS "is not a national security threat. It is a health threat," countered James Robbins of the Washington, D.C.-based National Defense University. Robbins cited Botswana and South Africa, two countries ravaged by HIV/AIDS but among the continent's most stable nations.

The report found similarities between the AIDS epidemic and the Black Death, which devastated Europe's rural agrarian societies. Most who died from the Black Death were in their most productive years, ages 14-60. HIV/AIDS strikes mainly young adults and is taking a toll on the rural agrarian societies of sub-Saharan Africa. While much of sub-Saharan Africa has felt the impact of HIV/AIDS, other areas such as Russia, Ukraine, Indonesia, Southeast Asia, and India are only beginning to feel the full impact of the epidemic, Garrett said.

The consequences of the Black Death were quickly apparent, because most people died within 18 months. But the "long wavelength" of AIDS -- some 14 years between infection, illness, death, and family disruption -- conceals its mounting devastation, Garrett said.

Wealthy nations should greatly increase their spending on research for an HIV vaccine, recommended the report, "HIV and National Security: Where Are the Links?"

Back to other news for July 20, 2005

Adapted from:
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
07.19.05; Jack Kelly

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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.
See Also
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