AIDS Carriers—How Many Could Die?
WHEN AIDS was first identified in 1981, health officials estimated that about 5 to 10 percent of those who had the virus would get the disease and die. But the virus proved to have a long incubation period. It may take five years or more for symptoms to become apparent.
Now, with the experience of the past eight years, some officials are estimating that 40 to 50 percent, or more, of those carrying the AIDS virus will develop the disease and die. AIDS and the Third World stated: “A computer model is said to predict that 50% of HIV-carriers will develop full-blown AIDS in five years, and 75% in seven years.” (The term “HIV” comes from the words “Human Immunodeficiency Virus,” the AIDS virus.)
The publication then said: “Many medical experts, and a majority of virologists, now believe that the death toll among HIV-carriers will approach very close to 100%. . . . The belief that all will eventually die is based partly on the fact that as every year goes by, more people who contracted the virus three or four or five years ago do indeed develop the disease. And it is based partly on the studies of the HIV virus itself.” Of course, such views are estimates. Only time will tell if they will be realized in actual fact.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, researcher at the National Institutes of Health in the United States, noted that about 90 percent of individuals who test positive for HIV antibodies have some sort of immune function impairment within five years.
Even if “only” 50 percent die of the 50 million to 100 million virus carriers projected for the near future, it would mean millions of deaths each year sometime in the next decade. One source put the projected death toll in Africa alone as possibly tens of millions.
Compared to War
The consequences of the AIDS plague in lives lost, in damage to society, and in financial cost are being compared to the consequences of major wars.
For example, in the United States, about 40,000 have already died. From one million to two million more are said to be infected. In New York City alone, an estimated 250,000 to 400,000 residents have the virus. In some parts of the city, AIDS has become the most common infectious disease in newborn babies.
While the rate of increase in the United States has slowed in some high-risk groups and the feared explosion of AIDS among heterosexuals has not come to pass, the number of deaths will still be very high in the near future. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta estimates that by the end of 1991, over 200,000 Americans will have died from AIDS. In the one year, 1991, it is expected that over 50,000 will die from it. And by the end of 1992—only four years from now—more Americans may have died from AIDS than died in World War I, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War combined.
In fact, The Futurist states: “AIDS may kill more people by the end of this century than have been killed by all of our wars [of all the nations].”
The projected costs are staggering. In the United States the estimate is $50,000 or more per year for each patient. So in the years ahead, many billions of dollars will be required annually to pay for patient care. Some fear that health-care systems will be unable to cope with the number of patients or the cost.
Worse in Africa
In Africa few if any wars have ever done what AIDS is now doing. Britain’s New Scientist observes: “AIDS is running rampant through Africa.” An article in Politiken of Denmark said: “Uganda’s chief AIDS official states, ‘Unless something changes, every second adult in this country will be HIV-positive in the year 2000.’ Almost half of all the AIDS cases in Africa are women in their child-bearing years. Children account for one of every five AIDS cases in Rwanda. In Zambia, 6,000 babies will be born with AIDS this year. Among 800 prostitutes tested in Nairobi, nine out of 10 were infected with HIV. And these women sleep with an average of 1,000 customers per year.”
“If we do nothing, the continent will die,” says Pieter Piot, a Belgian expert. Jonathan Mann, who heads the WHO campaign, states: “The alternative is to give up on Africa, as if the world were not a single planet. But the epidemic cannot be stopped in any one country before it is stopped in all of them.”
Thus, many medical authorities feel that a global AIDS catastrophe has already begun. UN Secretary-General Javier Pérez de Cuéllar calls it a “global conflict” that “threatens us with all the consequences of war.”
In some ways it is worse than war. Why? Because no end is in sight, the casualties continue to mount, and the “wounded” are not recovering.
[Blurb on page 5]
‘Many now believe that the death toll of HIV carriers will approach very close to 100 percent’
[Blurb on page 5]
“AIDS may kill more people by the end of the century than have been killed by all of our wars”