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Activists mark World Aids Day. Though this is the season of goodwill and generosity, the Bush administration continues to shortchange poor nations struggling with AIDS. Prepared to spend $100 billion to wage war on Iraq, the administration has so far spent less than $2 billion on programs to curb AIDS abroad. (AFP photo)...

 

 

 

 


To fight Aids is to fight terrorism; the terrifying numbers of Aids

Today is World AIDS Day and since AIDS is not saturating the news, there is a belief that the problem has been solved.  Yet in India, Africa and China the number of deaths and infections are not only staggering but increasing geometrically 

There is no way to conceive of the amount of suffering that this plague is causing.  There is no way to even begin to imagine the hopelessness and pain and suffering of AIDS.

Yet in America, the good fundamentalist Christians believe that AIDS is God's revenge; especially on non-Christians.

When given a choice to kill Saddam and steal his oil or solve the mother of all killers and a plague that dwarfs all weapons of mass destruction, George Warmonger Bush rather steal oil.

Are we our brother's keeper?  WWJD

John WorldPeace
December 1,  2002


OUR OPINION: Fighting AIDS abroad would curb terror

Cynthia Tucker - Staff
Sunday, December 1, 2002
ajc.com

Though this is the season of goodwill and generosity, the Bush administration continues to shortchange poor nations struggling with AIDS.

Prepared to spend $100 billion to wage war on Iraq, the administration has so far spent less than $2 billion on programs to curb AIDS abroad. Even as international aid experts and physicians document a plague that is destabilizing countries across the globe, the United States has resisted offering substantial funds to help.

Last summer, when retiring Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) was belatedly stricken with a bout of conscience over his years of opposing funding for AIDS research, he proposed a dramatic increase in U.S. donations to curb the spread of AIDS worldwide. But President Bush fought the proposal.

It was a remarkable moment. As he neared retirement, the jingoistic troglodyte from North Carolina realized he'd been mistaken about anti-AIDS efforts. Believing that his Christian faith required more of him, he rounded up bipartisan support for a bill to pour billions into programs to fight the epidemic. But Bush, who marketed himself to the American people as a "compassionate conservative," deep-sixed the plan.

If simple compassion is not enough to persuade the president to do more, perhaps national interest will. AIDS --- the great plague of the 21st century --- is creating chaos and instability throughout Africa and parts of Asia. Those conditions give free rein to terrorist groups such as al-Qaida.

While there is no clear link between poverty and terrorism (the hijackers who committed the terrorist atrocities of Sept. 11 were mostly middle-class and educated), it is no accident that al-Qaida could make itself at home in countries such as Afghanistan and Sudan. In both places, years of civil war had created desperate poverty and undermined central government authority. It was easy enough for Osama bin Laden to move in, buying loyalty with his millions.

AIDS is creating similar conditions in countries from Angola to Zimbabwe to Rwanda. As just one example of the consequences, the Pentagon has started to notice that AIDS is decimating African armies. That does not portend well as the United States starts to look toward African nations as sources of petroleum; multinational oil companies depend on local armies to provide security for oil installations.

The AIDS pandemic has also begun cutting a broad swath across Eastern Europe and Central Asia; the region now has the unfortunate distinction of having the highest rate of new infections. Uzbekistan, for example, has had nearly as many new cases of HIV infection in the first six months of this year as it had in the previous decade, according to UNAIDS, a U.N.-affiliated health organization.

Uzbekistan, a former Soviet republic, has a heavily Muslim population and shares a border with Afghanistan. If Uzbekistan's government grows more unstable because of a high rate of AIDS, American efforts to halt terrorism, drug trafficking and gun running in the region will be crippled.

Americans are not easily persuaded to support efforts that wage peace. Despite our self-image as a generous and charitable nation, we donate about 0.01 percent of gross national product in development aid to poor countries, the lowest percentage of any wealthy nation.

Given his personal popularity, Bush could help Americans see the connection between increased foreign aid and a more stable world. As we settle in to fight terrorism for the next several decades, we ought to help ourselves by curbing the conditions that allow it to fester and grow.

Bush could easily convince Americans of the connection. But first, someone will have to convince him.

Cynthia Tucker is the editorial page editor. Her column appears Sundays and Wednesdays.

cynthia@ajc.com


One Million China Students to Lead AIDS Fight 

Dec. 1, 2002

By Michael Battye

BEIJING (Reuters) - China, long criticized for ignoring a potential explosion of the scourge, marked World AIDS Day on Sunday by launching awareness and prevention campaigns in the world's most populous country.

The campaigns were a sign that at least some in Asia may finally be ready to overcome social taboos on talking openly about sexual activities in many of the region's countries where five out of eight of the world's people live.

At Beijing's Great Hall of the People, the government announced it would send one million students into the countryside over the next year to spread the word about HIV/AIDS prevention and persuade people not to discriminate against sufferers.

Top actor Pu Cunxin hugged AIDS victims in a graphic message to China's 1.3 billion people that the disease that has ravaged sub-Saharan Africa is not passed by casual contact.

Even so, experts say, efforts to educate people about how the disease is spread and to ease the deep social stigma it brands on sufferers may already be too late to head off a rapid spread.

China, where numbers are little more than best guesses in a land where many local officials prefer to ignore the disease, already has at least one million carriers of the HIV virus that can lead to AIDS.

India, the world's second most populous nation, has at least four million.

Worldwide, 42 million people have the AIDS virus and nowhere is immune, not even way out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

In September, the tiny island nation of Vanuatu was so distraught by the confirmation of its first AIDS case that Prime Minister Edward Natapei made a national announcement of it.

TERRIFYING PROJECTIONS

The projections are terrifying.

The U.S. Central Intelligence agency reckons that in a mere seven years, by 2010, India will have the most HIV victims in the world -- somewhere between 20 and 25 million. China, it says, will have between 10 and 20 million.

The United Nations says the whole of the Asia-Pacific region has, right now, about 7.2 million people with HIV.

The percentages of Asian populations with HIV are low, mostly under one percent, which is much lower than in sub-Saharan Africa, where the United Nations says about nine percent of all people between the ages of 15 and 49 carry HIV.

But that 7.2 million figure is a 10 percent increase on last year and the United Nations reckons that in some parts of India and China, infection rates are reaching 10 to 20 percent.

What is scaring the experts is that the disease is on the point of "breaking out" of the vulnerable social groups such as homosexuals and drug users who share needles and have high percentages of sufferers, into the general population.

"The experience in all other countries is that when you have sub-groups like that with very high prevalence, they do interact with the general population at some point," said Siri Tellier, Beijing representative of the United Nations Population Fund:

"This is what we're seeing, a high rate of increase and it is starting to spread to the general population."

CRANKING UP PUBLICITY

That is why governments in countries such as China -- where a significant number of country folk got HIV from illegal blood collecting schemes -- are cranking up their publicity machines.

On Saturday, the government collected about 1,000 people in a village hall outside Beijing and showed them documentaries on what AIDS is, how it is spread and how not to get it.

The official Xinhua news agency said the series would be broadcast on 1,000 local television stations and reach about half the country's 1.3 billion people.

Ignorance, it quoted Vice Health Minister Ma Xiaowei as saying at the premiere of the documentaries, was the major challenge in the battle against the disease.

Ray Yip of UNICEF said China had three or four years to contain the spread of HIV so it did not become a "hyper endemic" country and praised the government for starting to make serious efforts.

"We're not only having all kinds of responses, all kinds of efforts, but we are also seeing they are addressing the more sensitive issues," he said. "They're willing to bring out the faces, willing to say that discrimination is unacceptable."

But the hopes of ending the visceral fear of AIDS sufferers that people in many parts of Asia feel may be forlorn.

Just ask Lao Ren, who contracted the virus in trying to boost the income of his poor rural family when he sold blood to one of the illegal schemes and now scrapes a living from a roadside stall in Beijing.

If his neighbors knew he had HIV, they would flee, he says. If his customers knew, they would shun him.

"If people knew I had HIV, I would be finished." (With additional reporting by Tamora Vidaillet) ((Beijing Newsroom +8610 6586-5566 ext 202, Fax +8610 8527-5258 reuters@public.bta.net.cn)



How can we manifest peace on earth if we do not include everyone (all races, all nations, all religions, both sexes) in our vision of Peace?


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