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Kamala Sarup: HIV/AIDS on Security

HIV/AIDS on Security


By Kamala Sarup

The coming year is critical for the United Nations to make the necessary reforms to deal effectively with a new globalization of threats, from HIV/AIDS, Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the General Assembly today.

"Do we want the human cost of HIV/AIDS to accumulate to the point where societies and states collapse? Do we want to face a future cascade of nuclear proliferation?" he asked.

"Next time we are faced with genocide, will we again resign ourselves to watching passively until it is too late? Do we want to raise our children in a world where small groups of terrorists can murder hundreds of thousand at any moment?"

Mr. Annan appointed the 16-member panel of prominent politicians, diplomats and development experts a year ago and yesterday they came out with 101 proposals for dealing with the six areas identified as being the greatest threats to worldwide security in the 21st century: continued poverty and environmental degradation, terrorism, civil war, conflict between states, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and organized crime.

HIV threat continued..............

Speaking November 30 in Washington Piot said that the HIV/AIDS rate in Asia is coming "perilously close to a tipping point" and that the infection "could transition from a series of concentrated outbreaks in subpopulations into a generalized explosion across the entire population, spreading like a wildfire."

"Increasing poverty, in both urban and rural areas, has led to rising levels of crime and sex trade growth, so sex workers in South Asia is now infected with HIV and as few have access to information about how to protect themselves from HIV/AIDS. Even on the other hand, woman-trafficking prevalent in South Asia needs to be properly addressed by the International organization, government, and social organizations before any breakthrough can be made in the fight against the disease". HIV+24 years Narita argued in Kathmandu.

Mark L. Rosenberg, executive director of the Task Force for Child Survival and Development, created in the mid-1980s to coordinate efforts toward reducing child deaths, said ''The rights of a child are not only to survive, but to thrive, not to become a victim of HIV/AIDS, not to be exploited, not to be abused. The world doesn't stop at simple survival."

US Global Aids Co-ordinator Ambassador Randall L Tobias said yesterday in Dar es Salaam "About 90 per cent of people living with Aids aren't aware they are affected. People living with HIV/Aids should not be discriminated. "Love them. Show them compassion," he said.

"If we don`t take strong measures to control it, then to 2010, we might have millions of people died of the lethal disease," Aids activist Nita warned. "The epidemic has spread to rural areas and is especially endangering our children and also married women."

She further argued "For more efforts to eliminate the country`s poverty, develop country`s society and economy, promote the education level, as well as to break off bad social habit, which, she said, were the causes of the spreading of HIV/AIDS.

"Asia, already crippled with problems of underdevelopment, poverty, food scarcity, internal conflicts, is the hardest hit by the HIV-AIDS pandemic. If the number of HIV infections continue to rise at the current rate, the Asian's economy could become crippled, increasing health costs and dampening workplace productivity. If HIV continues to infect younger people of productive age groups, it will have an all-round effect on our development. HIV related illness and death creates new poverty, deepens existing poverty and increases family and national indebtedness". She warned.

Chiranjibi says that "it is necessary the introduction in the national legislation of free of charge programmes in the mass media organisations on matters related to STD and HIV/AIDS, in order to reach a considerable number of people, thus to fight the spreading of the disease".

The massive and rapid spread of HIV/AIDS in Asia is not just a health issue. It is a significant threat to national security also. War, internal conflict and HIV/AIDS together threaten of economic and social progress in Asia.

The situation in Asia deserved particular attention because the internal conflicts had not allowed the region to set up the necessary conditions required to combat HIV/AIDS. The security conditions have directly affected the spread of HIV/AIDS, and that conflict and civil unrest can increase vulnerability to HIV/AIDS particularly among women and children. Conflict have contributed to massive numbers of internally displaced persons and refugees and the propagation of HIV/AIDS.

"We have to strengthen local and regional capacity in order to be able to respond to the HIV/AIDS epidemics. Broad alliances involving governments, voluntary organizations, local communities, workplaces, and schools and the military must be part of this joint effort". AIDS activist Radha says.

She said we must promote individual responsibility by empowering women and girls to make themselves less vulnerable and by involving men who are turning the tide of the epidemic. The fight against HIV/AIDS is part of peace-building; it is part of our efforts to make a better, more just and safer Asia for all.

Poverty, gender inequality, low levels of education and literacy, denial, stigma and discrimination are major factors for HIV vulnerability in Asia. Disease in Asia was largely being spread by migration and the cross-border trafficking of women. The disease is found not only among sex workers in the region but also among housewives and new born babies.

"Investing in health can reduce the risk of conflict as well as mitigating its impact. Investing in the health sector makes good sense for conflict prevention as well as for socio-economic development. Health can help peace also in operational terms. On other hand, media can play a great role in creating awareness among the general public. Education and awareness are the two powerful instruments, which can check the spread of the disease". Dr. Norman Singh said.

"According to WHO, the young children and virgins fall in a high risk group for contracting HIV through having sex with HIV carrier". He argued.

In the region most vulnerable groups such as sex workers, drug users, migrant populations and others who are made vulnerable by economic and social instability. Political instability, and political crisis have an undeniable impact upon public health. Public health can be effective only in as much as the security of victims or armed conflict is guaranteed. Placing social services high on the political agenda can help maintain social cohesion, national unity and stability.

The economic repercussions of the HIV epidemic at macro level are already being felt in the public and private sectors in Asia. The cause and consequences of the epidemic are closely associated with other challenges to development including poverty, unemployment, civil unrest, indebtedness and rural-urban movements. There's no question that if the epidemic reaches thausends — which is about two times what it is now — it will have a serious adverse consequence on the economy. In the context oof a stagnating economy, the cost of treatment will "be greater than the economic value of the lives. This will make a significant dent on the growth rate of Net Domestic Product of Asia within the next few decades. Per Capita income levels are also expected to fall in future.

"The rapid increase being seen in HIV/AIDS points to a southern African style socio-economic pattern in HIV transmission that poses a serious threat to Asia's future.

HIV/AIDS is now a major killer in Asia, putting increasing strain on the region's public health system. The situation urgently requires a response that includes better access to the latest treatments and management of those treatments". Peace Media's reporter Amrit says.

Executive Director of Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) Dr Peter Piot also said " 50 per cent of the world's poor who live on less than a dollar a day, South Asia is faced with a potentially explosive AIDS epidemic that could erupt unless existing HIV prevention and care efforts are scaled up immediately,".

"Even STD patients are rarely seen in the public health facilities. For confidentiality or other reasons, they seek treatment at private practices or prefer to try self-medication. The small numbers and the implicit selection bias make them a difficult group to monitor for HIV surveillance". journalist Chiranjibi Budhathoki said in Arlington US.

"Even recently, China recognizes that even low overall HIV infection rates pose a serious threat in the long run. So, China has moved quickly to put in place anti-discrimination laws, to build a treatment programme for those already infected and to initiate prevention activities targeting injecting drug users and sex workers". Chiranjibi said.

High infection rate with HIV among the economically active persons in Asia is a real cause of concern. For example, the proportion of HIV positive cases is found to be highest in the age group between 21-30 years. The resulting effect on the government budget will be exacerbated because more and more of the young will be orphans as the AIDS epidemic worsens, implying higher government costs if not total costs of raising children.

"With few exceptions, a large number of people with HIV-AIDS have no access to services and doctors sometimes refuse to treat them. The challenge is to train medical staff, extend laboratory services, increase care and support system as well as provide voluntary counselling and testing services". HIV+ Nabin Suri said.

*************

(Kamala Sarup is editor to http://peacejournalism.com/)


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