Editorials: Eurasian HIV epidemic will have harsh economic consequences
The HIV epidemic in Eurasia "is a phenomenon potentially more destabilizing than any act of terrorism has ever been," George Will writes in his Newsweek column this week. Will cites a Foreign Affairs essay that outlined the potential military, economic, and social effects of the escalating epidemic in Asia and Russia. Will states that while the global reaction to AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa may have been mild because the region "is of marginal political and economic importance," Eurasia is home to a majority of the world's population and has a combined gross national product that surpasses that of the United States. He writes that in China, India, and Russia, 44 million members of the economically active population between the ages of 15 and 64 might die of HIV-related causes by 2025. At the same time, the cost of treating and caring for people with HIV disease will drain economic resources. "The net effect could approximate cutting off afflicted countries from globalization, which means from the great commercial engine of wealth creation that supports lifestyles essential to public-health improvements," Will concludes.
In addition, the Indianapolis Star says in an editorial that "though the war against terrorism has received much of the media's attention, the looming AIDS pandemic poses a devastating threat to human existence," noting that the National Intelligence Council estimates that the next big wave of the epidemic will occur in Russia, China, India, Nigeria, and Ethiopia, five countries that hold 40% of the world's population. If the virus spreads unchecked through these countries, it would strain leadership roles, fragile economies, and resources, the editorials says. The Star states that the "world must adopt a comprehensive plan" to fight HIV and other infectious diseases, including malaria and tuberculosis, or face the increasing likelihood that they will continue to spread. However, "the United States's commitment to the battle against HIV/AIDS has been inadequate," the editorial says, concluding, "We must see AIDS for what it is: a weapon of mass destruction."