Losses Measured In
As HIV/AIDS destroys the financial
underpinnings of millions of families, it is felt on a national scale. A
World Bank Study of HIV/AIDS in 2002 found that family income drops
between 40 and 60 percent when the disease strikes a family member.
Often other family members will leave their jobs to care for those who
are ill. At the national level, the percent of the population with
HIV/AIDS is directly proportional to economic growth and in turn
economic development. Models created by the World Bank demonstrate that
when infection levels rise above five percent national growth slows
dramatically; when the infection rate reaches 10 percent growth ceases,
and; in the cases when the infection rate reaches 20 percent, roughly
one percentage point of GDP drops per year. The UNAIDS report suggests
that this relationship may be exponential, and that the results of an
infection rate above 20 percent may be dramatically worse than modeled.
The UN Food and Agriculture
Organization (FAO) estimated that in the 27 hardest hit nations in
Sub-Saharan Africa, seven million agricultural workers have died since
1985, and that by 2020, 16 million will have died. In some African
countries, close to 25 percent of the agricultural work force will die
in the next 15 years. There is potential for massive food shortages and
famine across an already stricken continent, which would further
impoverish and malnourish the population that is further destabilizing.
Collapses Threaten U.S. Security
The complete disintegration of
Sub-Saharan Africa caused by HIV/AIDS is not beyond the realm of
possibility. The chaos that results from state failure, as seen in
Somalia, boosts radicalization of the population creating a fertile
ground for terrorist recruitment. Regional stability and sustainable
development are goals of the U.S. National Security Strategy and the
HIV/AIDS explosion poses a formidable roadblock to both of them.
Large scale African state failure due
to HIV/AIDS, in a region that is ripe to be radicalized, could pose a
serious threat to U.S. security. The embassy bombings in Kenya and
Tanzania show that terrorism already has an African face. With 42
million orphans potentially on the streets in the next five years,
terrorist and extremist groups will have no shortage of recruits. Al
Qaeda and its affiliated organizations have a proven proficiency at
recruiting disaffected youth and can be expected to draw from this
dramatically expanded pool.
and control of state armies and even rebel groups is jeopardized when a
large percentage of the force believe they are “walking dead” due to
their HIV/AIDS infection. A lack of discipline among the soldiers, who
increasingly partake in risky behavior, or outright disobey orders, such
the rapes UN peacekeepers have been recently reported to be committing
in the Congo.
Russia, China, and
India: HIV/AIDS in Major Regional Powers.
While the immediate results of HIV/AIDS
in Africa are far and away worse than in the three largest threatened
developed or developing states, the African states play but a minimal
role on the global stage. The onset of an epidemic in Russia, India or
China could dramatically alter the balance of power on a near global
Official Russian government figures
state that currently 300,000 people are living with HIV/AIDS. However, a
recent study by USAID and the Woodrow Wilson Center puts the actual
number at close to 900,000. However, unlike in the West where on average
70 percent the affected population is over 30, the report claims, “Over
80 percent [or Russian AIDS suffers] are under the age of 30.” The
Federal Center for HIV/AIDS Treatment in Russia’s Ministry of Health
estimates that five to 10 million 15-20-year-olds will have contracted
the virus by 2007. The Russian military consequently has been hit hard
with high infection rates.
HIV/AIDS in Russia has grown since the
fall of communism. The most common form of transmission has been through
intravenous drugs. The Federal Center estimates that each drug user
infects, on average, two other people per year. The number of
intravenous drug users in Russia is thought to be some 2.5 to 3 million.
The number climbs five percent per year. The combination of an estimated
one million intravenous drug users in Moscow is coupled with a
flourishing sex industry spells disaster. Another breeding ground for
the disease is within the Russian prison system. A pattern has been
observed whereby released convicts, infected during their incarceration,
bring the disease to their small towns upon release. The deadly effect
of HIV/AIDS with an already decreasing Russian population, rampant
alcoholism, along with declining birthrates means that Russia’s
population may shrink by as much as 30 percent by 2050.
The economic effects of HIV/AIDS in
Russia is much the same as in Africa, but is compounded by the country’s
decreasing population. Even in African countries where HIV/AIDS is 20
percent there is still positive population growth; this is not the case
for Russia. According to a 2002 World Bank study of the economic effects
of HIV/AIDS in Russia, if current infection rates hold constant then
Russian GDP could be up to 10.5 percent lower by 2020.
Domestically, the Russian government
spends but $6 million annually on HIV/AIDS programs. In a perplexing
allocation of funds, it pledged $20 million to fight the disease
globally in the summer of 2002 at a UN Conference on HIV/AIDS. The
government then blocked the implementation of a World Bank program in
Russia to reduce tuberculosis, which often accompanies HIV/AIDS. As a
result, foreign charitable organizations are the primary caregiver for
Russians suffering with HIV/AIDS.
Dr. Murray Feshbach, an economist and
demographer, is an expert on the HIV/AIDS crisis in Russia and authored
The Woodrow Wilson Center report. He said; “If the [Russian] leadership
continues to pay only lip service to the issue, the consequences in the
very near term of two to three years, and certainly a decade from now,
will be devastating to the society, to family formation, to the
military, to productivity of labor, to continued growth of the gross
domestic product and to the polity.”
recently, China was reluctant to admit it had an HIV/AIDS problem.
UNAIDS estimated about one million Chinese suffer from HIV/AIDS, and
that by 2020 that number could exceed 20 million. In seven of China’s 22
provinces strong epidemics rage, along with pockets of HIV/AIDS on the
southern border where an underground drug market flourishes. Poor
governmental blood transfusion techniques have complicated the matter,
with a large number of new infections arriving from the widespread use
of non-sterile needles during the early 1990s.
It seems the Beijing government,
however, now understands the implications of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and
its potential impact on the economics and investment. The Chinese
government has set a series of benchmarks to reduce of the infection
rate by 10 percent by 2005, along with increased education and care for
half those infected by the disease.
With a population second only to China,
India has the highest number of HIV/AIDS infections in the world.
India’s bustling truck routes, where drivers utilize a growing sex
industry, is where the majority of HIV/AIDS infections first arise and
then is spread throughout the country when the drivers return to their
far-flung homes. One of the signs that the general population is at risk
is the astounding fact that, at any one time, as many as three percent
of pregnant women are infected. Due to a large percentage of its vast
population living in squalid and cramped urban areas, India could be
ripe for an HIV/AIDS pandemic.
New Delhi’s response to HIV/AIDS, much
like Russia’s, has been a mixture of reluctance and unachievable goals
such as an April 2002 proclamation that the target infection rate for
2007 was “zero.” According to Dr. Nicholas Eberstadt, a demographer and
health issue expert at the American Enterprise Institute, “this only
raises questions about the seriousness of the effort overall.” The U.S.
has several vital national interests related in India, China, and
Russia, and could ill afford for a sub-Saharan level of the crisis in
these countries. In the case of Russia, the shrinking population,
combined with a massive nuclear arsenal, along with the relatively slow
response to the growing issue of HIV/AIDS should be cause for concern,
according to the Woodrow Wilson report. If HIV/AIDS caused a massive
collapse of Russia’s economy it is highly probable that Moscow would
initiate a fire sale of its weapons, especially its highly desired
weapons of mass destruction and their delivery vehicles.
Editorial Assistant Eric Koch