WHILE the number of AIDS deaths in this country and other
industrialized nations is on the decline, the epidemic in
sub-Saharan Africa is growing at frightening speed. A report
published by the United Nations shows that AIDS is devastating
the population growth of some African countries, and is
expected to cut life expectancy in the region from 61 years in
1993 to just 41 years by 2005.
In these sub-Saharan countries, as much as a quarter of the
population is infected with the HIV virus. Some experts,
including Carol Bellamy, head of UNICEF, believe countries such
as Botswana and Zimbabwe could lose 20 percent of their
population to the epidemic in the next decade.
"In looking over global epidemics," Lester Brown, president of
World Watch Institute, told The New York Times, "one has to go
back to the 16th century and the introduction of smallpox in
the Aztec population of what is now Mexico to find anything on
that scale, and before that, to the bubonic plague in Europe in
the 14th century. . . .."
This new African plague cries out for remedy.
The industrialized countries shouldn't be lulled by their own
domestic success in combating AIDS as an excuse to do less in
the rest of the world. They must redouble their efforts in
Africa at education, prevention and treatment - all techniques
that have worked at home to reduce the spread of HIV.
Leaders must not let any backward ideas about "morality" affect
political decisions to fund family planning abroad. The only
immorality in a discussion of AIDS is knowing that deaths can
be prevented but failing to prevent them.