October 15, 2001
AIDS and violent conflict in Africa
* In sub-Saharan Africa there are more than 25 million Africans infected with HIV/AIDS (70 percent of the world's cases) and 17 million dead; on its current trajectory, by 2010 the disease will decrease life expectancy on the continent to levels found at the beginning of the last century.
* Many governments, international organizations, and NGOs have joined a UN-led movement to address the causes and effects of AIDS in Africa. It now appears that the international community is fully conscious of the need to commit resources to turn the tide against this plague.
* AIDS most frequently strikes at the most productive members of society, those 15-45 years old that are critical to the development of the African state and the stability of the African family.
* As AIDS advances in a society it weakens the state's economic capacity, stealing away its human capital, cutting into its tax base, and drying up foreign investment Power struggles over the state's limited resources increase the likelihood of violent conflict.
* The disease leaves in its wake an explosion of the orphan population, thereby increasing the ranks of poverty-stricken children in Africa.
* Warfare is an amplifier of disease, creating ideal conditions for its spread, including poverty, famine, destruction of health and other vital infrastructure, large population movements, and the breakdown of family units and thus protective networks for women.
The December 2000 report "AIDS Epidemic Update" (United Nations AIDS Fund/World Health Organization) described the stark human tragedy caused by the HIV/AIDS pandemic: 36 million people infected worldwide, 22 million dead since the identification of the disease some 20 years ago, indications of exponential growth of HIV infection in the Russian Federation, and an escalating AIDS epidemic in...
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