AIDS- The history of the Killer by Anupam Dabral
AIDS : A MAN MADE TRAGEDY OR AN EXAMPLE OF ERRONOUS INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMACY AND FAULTY HEALTH POLICIES.
‘Both the Moral Majority, who are recycling medieval language to explain AIDS, and those ultra-leftists who attribute AIDS to some sort of conspiracy, have a clearly political analysis of the epidemic. But even if one attributes its cause to a microorganism rather than the wrath of God, or the workings of the CIA, it is clear that the way in which AIDS has been perceived, conceptualized, imagined, researched and financed makes this the most political of diseases.’
HIV/AIDS is claimed to be bidirectionally sexually transmitted. Data to support this claim is based not upon microbial isolation and contact tracing as is the orthodox practice for proving diseases are infectious and sexually transmitted (STD), but on mostly retrospective studies of highly selected groups of individuals including gay and bisexual men, heterosexual men and women including prostitutes, for antibodies in blood which react certain proteins deemed “HIV specific”. Included in these studies are estimations of risk factors for the specific sexual practices of penile insertive, vaginal, anal receptive and oral receptive intercourse.
AIDS today is less of a disease and more of a sociopolitical issue and ignorance has only worsened the condition. If it was not for ignorance of , the health minister of Uganda , Manto Tshabalalo Msimang , he would not have suggested that beetroot and garlic were the effective treatment for aids.
If we trace the history AIDS, the virus has been in existence for a number of years, scientists also claim that virus was discovered in Africa.
1970’s was the time of when America saw Beatles, drugs and sexual revolution. The sense of liberation in terms of sexuality prevailed in America. People were out, having intercourse and among them were men having sex with men also. It was not until 1980’s that the term ’AIDS’ started floating in the news channels and the American dailies. Many new American scientists called it as the ‘CONSEQUENCE YEAR’ the year in which the sexual experiments of the 1970’s displayed results which were highly fatal i.e the rise of AIDS as an epidemic.
THE AFRICAN TRAGEDY
Africa is one part of the world which has been worst hit by the AIDS. Unlike USA which is a developed nation Africa’s struggle with AIDS went undocumented for several years. In 2007, 1.6 million people were killed alone in Sub-Saharan Africa. Poverty and poor health conditions go hand in hand. In Sub-Saharan Africa as a whole, malnutrition is rising rather than decline and under-nutrition goes hand in hand with AIDS The risk of HIV infection is much higher to a child with malnutrition
In 2007 some 15.4 million women were living with HIV, which is half of all adults living with HIV. In sub-Saharan Africa, however, almost 61% of all adults living with HIV were women, and in the 15-24 age group, African women living with HIV outnumber men by a factor of two to six. In all other regions, more men are living with HIV than women, but the proportion of women living with HIV is growing. The increasing feminization of HIV/AIDS has disastrous consequences on household welfare, resulting in the “collapse of family structures and community care networks.”
There is a strong correlation between gender inequality and poverty. The current Poverty Reduction Strategies for 15 countries in sub-Saharan Africa all evidence a keen appreciation of the critical role of women in development. While articulated in diverse ways and under different “pillars” or “priority areas,” all promote, in one way or another, mainstreaming of gender equality and emphasize efforts toward equalizing opportunities in education.
Worldwide, AIDS is a relatively minor proximate cause of death in children under five. However, because of the devastating consequences of AIDS on child vulnerability and orphan hood, child protection has received increasing national and international attention in recent years. As late as 2004, a joint survey by UNICEF and the World Bank of then-current Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers in Africa concluded that these documents did not demonstrate a strong commitment to children and HIV/AIDS and that the needs of orphans and vulnerable children particularly lacked significant attention. In a survey carried out in the same year in 36 countries in sub-Saharan Africa to measure the level of national effort to implement key strategies to provide child protection, legislative review ranked at the bottom.
AMERICAN POLITICS OF DENIAL AND AIDS
As early as 1981, the U.S government , health officials knew that the HIV had infected African and American population, Centre For Disease Control (C.D.C) published reports specifying that HIV plagued hundreds of Americans at that time. Between 1981 -1983, 4793 cases of AIDS had been reported. In June 2000-2001 many American NGO’S and government papers revealed that AIDS was just not to be limited to a particular geographical area or a race. In the year 2002 Mr Bill Clinton declared AIDS to be a humanitarian issue, he proposed a plan for developing nations to contribute sufficient funds to support costs of HIV/AIDS drugs.
If we critically analyse the causes which stimulated the spreading of AIDS in USA , the hostile attitude of REAGAN, BUSH and CLINTON as something which needs to be taken in concern. There were only word and no execution. Some of the latest reports in United States reveal that over a million people have HIV in USA. Half of the HIV cases are known to be involved in the homosexual behavior and around 300,000 males have died because of AIDS. Uptill 2003, 42 million people were infected with AIDS , one third of the cases between the ages of 15 to 24 almost 90 percent of HIV positive people live in developing nations.
Horrifying scale of HIV/AIDS pandemic in the developing world, particularly Sub-Saharan African , in conjunction with the USA , to a hegemonic status , have placed US foreign toward HIV/AIDS and security. Emerging infectious diseases become a significant public health issue during the 1990’s as evidence by the WHO’s warning in 1996 that world confronted a crisis.
THE ‘AXIS OF EVIL’
President Bush announced a new strategic doctrine for achieving U.S national security against what he called that “ axis of evil”. The axis of evil produced a strategic doctrine to guide the application of US power. Among other things , the axis of evil raised the importance of public health in US foreign and national security policy.
The ‘axis of illness’ identifies factors of Central policy relevance for dealing with emerging infectious diseases .Denial of the threat failed the diseases ‘s rampage locally, nationally and globally. The global HIV/AIDS strategy adopted international human rights principles as a core part of its approach.
As UNAIDS expressed, “experience in addressing the HIV/AIDS epidemic has confirmed that the promotion and protection of human rights constitute an essential component in preventing transmission of HIV and reducing the impact of HIV/AIDS.” The HIV/AIDS pandemic affected civil and political rights and economic, social, and cultural rights. The right to health–an economic, social, and cultural right was featured prominently in the WHO Constitution’s preamble, but civil and political rights were not. Although human rights treaties have long recognized infectious disease control as a legitimate reason for restricting enjoyment of civil and political rights, the relationship between public health and these rights was not prominent until after the WHO’s creation. Various responses to HIV/AIDS, including quarantine and isolation, and widespread stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV or AIDS, brought renewed public health attention to civil and political rights.
Similarly, the HIV/AIDS pandemic highlighted the right to health, especially with respect to access to antiretroviral treatments for people in the developing world living with HIV/AIDS. Human rights advocates argued that access to such treatments formed part of the right to health under international law. The global HIV/AIDS campaign embodied the inter-dependence and indivisibility of civil and political and economic, social, and cultural rights claimed in international human rights discourse.
Analysing the realm of Carter, Reagan and Clinton, the AIDS policy covering the health policy and it’s socio-political status there were certain lacunas that obstructed the mission. In 1978, the President Carter’s Special Assistant for health issues, issued new directions in International Health Cooperation. Poor health in other nations created economic burdens for United States , reducing the US export markets and harmed economic development throughout.
By the time President Clinton took office, global policy efforts on the pandemic included a well developed human rights approach to HIV/AIDS and public health. His administration predominantly worked on HIV and AIDS and other infectious diseases as exogenous threats to the United States. His administration argued that HIV in developing countries, especially Sub-Saharan Africa , represented a national security threat because of the political instability that AIDS related damage could cause in worse effected nations.
The Bush administration National Security strategy for United States released in September 2002, mention HIV/AIDS demonstrates that it’s national security and foreign policy team believed that this problem deserved prominent attention. The National Security mentions HIV/AIDS with respect to important US policy and national security concerns. Bush AIDS policy had 2 perspectives
1. Bush Administration stresses the threat the HIV pandemic poses for US national security and foreign policy.
2. Bush administrations human rights outlook on HIV / AIDS rejected 2 critical elements
a. Multilateralism of International Human Rights
b. Right to health.
Looking at the earlier lacunas the Obama AIDS policy concentrates on three main objectives reduction on the number of HIV infected people , increased access to proper health care and reducing the HIV related health disparities.
The vision for the National HIV/AIDS Strategy has been simplified as follows:
“The United States will become a place where new HIV infections are rare and when they do occur, every person, regardless of age, gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or socio-economic circumstance, will have unfettered access to high quality, life-extending care, free from stigma and discrimination”
But will the objectives be achieved? How much can we hope for? Will the menace ever be terminated? Are our children Safe?
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