Monday, December 01, 2003

Today is World AIDS day. It's a day to inform people about the pandemic which represents by far the greatest threat to humanity. Over 39 million people are presently infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. About 14,000 are infected every day.

Susan Hunter, former consultant for the organization UNAIDS, has compared AIDS to the black death that swept across Europe centuries ago, though AIDS has already killed numerically more people. In a radio interview, Hunter did demographic studies which showed that only two other events in the last 2000 years provoked as cataclysmic a loss of life as the present AIDS pandemic: the black death and the European conquest’s eradication of the Native American populations.

Nearly 3,000,000 people have died of the disease this year alone; the Holocaust took several years to achieve death of that magnitude. To put it another way, twice as many people died of AIDS every single day this year as died in the 9/11 attacks. That’s three millions people in a single year eliminated by a disease that’s manageable, if not curable.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan noted that many governments had described AIDS as a security threat but had devoted barely a fraction of the resources used to fight terrorism or search for weapons of mass destruction. I feel angry, I feel distressed, I feel helpless... to live in a world where we have the means, we have the resources, to be able to help all these patients - what is lacking is the political will.

Annan also ripped some African leaders who he said were too timid or embarrassed to confront the disease head on.

Click here for access to a plethora of stories on the topic.

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