AIDS conference offers frightening statistics

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 11, 2000

If you aren’t scared yet, you should be. The statistics and figures being released this week from the 13th International AIDS Conference are staggering:

–Nearly 5 million Americans’ unsafe sex and drug habits put them at risk of contracting AIDS.

–In nearly a dozen countries in sub-Saharan Africa, more than 15 percent of the population has AIDS — up to 36 percent in the worst areas.

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–And, in perhaps one of the most grim predictions, the AIDS epidemic will cause life expectancy rates to drop to 30 within 10 years in many of Africa’s worst-hit countries.

That’s right … in the 21st Century, many African residents can expect to live as only as long as their ancestors did more than 100 years ago, despite modern advances in technology, quality of life and medicine.

Experts have long raised the cry of concern over the AIDS epidemic in Africa. AIDS has been described as the &uot;most serious infectious disease threat in recorded human history.&uot;

And, at least one doctor has labeled the epidemic more socially devastating to Africans than slavery.

The reality is terrifying. Tens of millions of people are infected … and millions continue to spread the disease through unprotected sex or drug abuse.

And even though the countries are thousands of miles away, and the lives seem somehow remote from our own, we should quake in fear for the people of Africa.

They are suffering … and their society is dying … because of AIDS. And this is no longer an isolated epidemic. Statistics continue to show that AIDS is spreading … perhaps more slowly around the world, but undeniably spreading.

It is among the worst disasters of modern history, and its ravages will continue to haunt us for generations to come.