Sunday Times, 06 October 2002, Global tensions grow over Aids, Justice Malala: New York

The number of people infected with HIV/Aids will grow significantly by the end of the decade, reaching up to 75 million in the world's five most populous countries and continuing to decimate millions in Central and Southern Africa, a new US intelligence report says.

The report also says rates of infection will grow dramatically in Russia, China, India, Nigeria and Ethiopia, with the last two countries being the hardest hit if urgent steps are not taken to implement education and preventive programmes about HIV/Aids.
"Both countries are key to regional stability, and the rise in HIV/Aids will strain their governments," the report by the National Intelligence Council said.

Although people will continue to die from the pandemic in Central and Southern Africa, infections were likely to peak, the report said.

"Through 2010, HIV/Aids will increase more slowly or even decline in Southern and Central Africa - now in the sixth decade of the disease," the report claims.

Projected infection rates for Central and Southern Africa will be 30 million to 35 million by 2010.

The council is composed of individuals from the government and academic and private sectors and is directly linked to the US's Central Intelligence Agency.

The report's main author, Dr David F Gordon, is director of transnational issues for the CIA.

In the report, "The Next Wave of HIV/Aids", released this week, the group focused on the effect of the virus on the five countries and painted a picture where rates of infection are rising so fast that they pose potential security threats to their regions and to the US.

The report said the effect of the pandemic could harm economic, social, political and military structures in each of the countries. New tensions over spending priorities for the countries and for donor nations could emerge while healthcare costs were likely to soar.

Gordon said the pandemic could generate political tensions in Nigeria, a country that has been the most consistent partner with South Africa in implementing the New Partnership for Africa's Development. His report said the epidemic could also weaken Nigeria's peacekeeping role for the United Nations in Africa.

Although the report focuses exclusively on the five countries, it praises the work of the governments of Uganda, Brazil and Thailand in stemming the rise of infections by launching aggressive sex education programmes. The report also uses a UN Aids graph, which shows that from 1990 South Africa failed to implement an aggressive HIV control programme and thus infections soared.

The graph shows that from the same starting point of below 1% infections in 1990, infections in Thailand have remained below 4% while they have soared to nearly 25% of the sexually active population in South Africa.