G-8 Likely to Give HIV/AIDS a Back-Row Seat at Upcoming Meeting
May 5, 2004
The June 8 meeting of the G-8 at Sea Island, Ga., will be the group's second gathering since President Bush's 2003 pledge to give $15 billion to fight global HIV/AIDS and press other G-8 countries to contribute. HIV/AIDS in Africa was discussed at the 2003 summit in Evian, France. At this summer's meeting, however, observers expect it to rank far behind terrorism, weapons of mass destruction and the rebuilding of Iraq and Afghanistan.Adapted from:
"AIDS should be the No. 1 priority of the industrialized world. It should be at the top of the G-8 agenda, but it won't," said Jose da Cruz, assistant professor of political science at Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah. Surveying the economic consequences of the epidemic, Cruz said the G-8 nations -- the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Canada and Russia -- "have to realize they have money at stake. ... This is their workforce they're losing. These people dying of AIDS are the people making the profit for you."
But Godfrey Gibbison, assistant professor of economics at Georgia Southern University, said HIV/AIDS will not top the agenda until industrialized nations recognize that AIDS-ravaged poor countries are breeding grounds for terrorists. "It's not hard for terrorists to recruit in that sort of environment," said Gibbison.
Even if the G-8 takes up the issue or Bush's challenge, follow-through remains a concern, Cruz said. "When G-8 nations get together, they make a lot of promises, but when they go back [home], these promises disappear."
The distribution of AIDS drugs is Africa is hindered by ignorance, stigma and distrust of the West. Compounding that distrust, some say, is the absence of any Third World or African countries in the G-8.
05.02.04; Anne Hart