United Nations scientists are completing a two-year study of how AIDS will impact Africa over the next 20 years, hoping their findings will convince African governments to adopt effective policies to fight the disease. Preliminary findings have been presented at a London seminar.
Scientists from the U.N. AIDS agency say three scenarios will likely play out in Africa in the next 20 years.
In a presentation at the London School of Economics, the scientists said they have given working titles to the scenarios, and they are "Whirlpool," "Africa Takes a Stand," and "Africa Overcomes."
U.N. AIDS researcher Patrick Noack summarized the key points.
?How might the future unfold? 'Whirlpool' is really a story of denial, anti-development, systems that are overwhelmed and vicious spirals,? he said. ?The 'Africa Takes A Stand' scenario is one of control and containment, but also of state-building and of broader development. The third scenario, 'Africa Overcomes,' is a story of cooperation and coordination, of virtuous cycles and development, and well as dealing with HIV and AIDS.?
Dr. Noack says that many factors will affect the impact of AIDS in Africa 20 years from now. One is poverty. He says the continent's widespread poverty will continue to make it difficult for individuals and governments to fight the disease.
?In the worst case there will be in the region of 650 million people living on less than two dollars a day, of which 400 million will live on less than one dollar,? Dr. Noack said. ?In the best case, the number of people living on two dollars a day is going to stagnate around 450 million of which more than 200 million are going to live on less than one dollar a day.?
The AIDS pandemic also tends to increase and perpetuate poverty by taking away the productive generation and leaving children to fend for themselves, rather than going to school.
A spokeswoman for the U.N. project, Betty Amailuk, says a broad spectrum of Africans affected by the AIDS crisis have been consulted to help develop the scenarios.
?We have people who are facing it in a most fundamental level. They are living with the virus, this is their story, this is their future, this is life-and-death for them, and they are facing it from that perspective,? Ms. Amailuksaid. ?We have other people who are facing it from a leadership perspective. Other people who are facing it from a religious perspective as church leaders. There's a story to be told for all of these people and there are lessons to be learned for all of these different groups of people with the scenario-building process,? she added.
The U.N. AIDS agency plans to unveil the project results in September with the aim of influencing policy and decision-making from the community level to the national leadership of countries throughout Africa.