AIDS in Africa - Security Implications: Plague of Our Times

HIV/AIDS is not the first disease to affect the destiny of humankind. In Biblical times, nine plagues were visited on the Egyptians. Then God slayed Egypt’s firstborns until ‘there was not a house where there was not one dead.’ In the fourteenth century, Europe lost millions of people to the bubonic plague, leading to major transformations of states and societies. One day, the same will be said about AIDS in Africa.

The World Today Published 1 October 2003 Updated 21 October 2020 5 minute READ

Angela Ndinga Muvumba

Senior Programme Officer, Africa Programme, International Peace Academy, New York

The HIV/AIDS scourge has not begun to level off in Africa. Estimates published last year by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) are overwhelming: nearly 29.4 million adults in sub-Saharan Africa are infected. The disease has orphaned nearly eleven million African children. Without a marked improvement in prevention, treatment and vaccine research, an estimated fifty five million Africans will have died by 2020. The bad news is that AIDS appears to be apocalyptic. The good news is that the pandemic is the most profound reason to stop doing business as usual.

The urge to stress the immensity of the crisis is driven by more than a concern for the moral implications of the AIDS holocaust. The fact is that estimates of its impact represent new realities that will affect economic, political and cultural processes. Important questions are raised about long-term stability, among which, how will the pandemic affect the economic and political security of Africa?

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