Quotes from here
The Aids pandemic is ravaging countries in sub-Saharan Africa, drastically reducing life expectancy in some parts to less than 33 years, a new UN report said yesterday.
The devastating impact of the crisis can be seen most clearly in seven African countries, including Malawi and Mozambique, where babies born in 2002 are not expected to live past 40 years because of the prevalence of HIV. Children in Zambia, where 17 per cent of the population are infected with the virus, are predicted to live just 32 years. The seven countries have, between them, seen an average drop in life expectancy of 13.5 years since 1990, the UN human development report said.
“In all these countries, Aids is reversing the hard-won development gains of recent decades,” said Elizabeth Lwanga, the deputy director of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for Africa. “We need an unprecedented response to this crisis, which is taking a devastating toll on our communities.”
With almost a quarter of its population infected with the virus, Zimbabwe has been the country most dramatically affected. Life expectancy there has plummeted from 57 years in 1990 to 34 in 2002.
In Swaziland, where one in three people between the ages of 15 and 49 are Aids sufferers, life expectancy has dropped by almost 20 years, and in Botswana, where the disease affects 37 per cent of the population, people can expect to live 16 years less now than in 1970.
Sub-Saharan Africa is home to just over 10 per cent of the world’s population – and to almost two thirds of all people living with HIV. In 2003, an estimated three million people in the area became infected for the first time, while 2.2 million died. As a result, many of the countries are considerably poorer than they were a decade ago; 13 of them are virtually the first countries in the UNDP report’s history to have suffered a reversal in living standards.
If this unimaginable horror is not dealt with, and dealt with soon, Sub-Saharan Africa will be virtually depopulated within our lifetime. Such a result would be equivalent to a de facto genocide of black Africans.
Why does the world community not adequately deal with this horrific problem? Sure, they offer a few billion here, a few subsidized drugs there. But that’s about it.
We need a Manhattan Project-style response to this pandemic. Only by bringing together, under one roof, the greatest medical minds in the world, with a blank-check budget from the international community, can we hope to be able to cure this dread disease.
No virus has ever been cured. And it’s about damn time we changed all that. Curing AIDs could lead to cures (as opposed to mere preventative measures) for other viral diseases, such as herpes, influenza, and even the common cold.
But what, you may ask, if the world community doesn’t generally care too much about dark-skinned third-world people in a faraway place? Then they better at least think of themselves. HIV, the virus that causes AIDs, is a retrovirus. It mutates frequently. There are already numerous different strains of this hideous microscopic menace.
What if the next mutant decides to become airborne? What if that happens tomorrow? What if it happened yesterday, and we don’t know about it yet, and won’t for months?
Raise my taxes, please. Just put together enough money to find a cure, save an entire continent, and prevent my next sexual encounter from becoming a game of Russian Roulette.