(a) FindingsCongress makes the following findings:
According to the Surgeon General of the United States, the epidemic of human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immune deficiency syndrome(HIV/AIDS) will soon become the worst epidemic of infectious disease in recorded history, eclipsing both the bubonic plague of the 1300’s and the influenza epidemic of 1918–1919 which killed more than 20,000,000 people worldwide.
Although sub-Saharan Africa has only 10 percent of the world’s population, it is home to more than 24,500,000—roughly 70 percent—of the world’s HIV/AIDS cases.
Worldwide, there have already been an estimated 18,800,000 deaths because of HIV/AIDS, of which more than 80 percent occurred in sub-Saharan Africa.
The gap between rich and poor countries in terms of transmission of HIV from mother to child has been increasing. Moreover, AIDS threatens to reverse years of steady progress of child survival in developing countries. UNAIDS believes that by the year 2010, AIDS may have increased mortality of children under 5 years of age by more than 100 percent in regions most affected by the virus.
At current infection and growth rates for HIV/AIDS, the National Intelligence Council estimates that the number of AIDS orphans worldwide will increase dramatically, potentially increasing threefold or more in the next 10 years, contributing to economic decay, social fragmentation, and political destabilization in already volatile and strained societies. Children without care or hope are often drawn into prostitution, crime, substance abuse, or child soldiery.
Donors must focus on adequate preparations for the explosion in the number of orphans and the burden they will place on families, communities, economies, and governments. Support structures and incentives for families, communities, and institutions which will provide care for children orphaned by HIV/AIDS, or for the children who are themselves afflicted by HIV/AIDS, will be essential.
The 1999 annual report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) states “[t]he number of orphans, particularly in Africa, constitutes nothing less than an emergency, requiring an emergency response” and that “finding the resources needed to help stabilize the crisis and protect children is a priority that requires urgent action from the international community.”.
The discovery of a relatively simple and inexpensive means of interrupting the transmission of HIV from an infected mother to the unborn child—namely with nevirapine (NVP), which costs US$4 a tablet—has created a great opportunity for an unprecedented partnership between the United States Government and the governments of Asian, African and Latin American countries to reduce mother-to-child transmission (also known as “vertical transmission”) of HIV.
According to UNAIDS, if implemented this strategy will decrease the proportion of orphans that are HIV-infected and decrease infant and child mortality rates in these developing regions.
A mother-to-child antiretroviral drug strategy can be a force for social change, providing the opportunity and impetus needed to address often long-standing problems of inadequate services and the profound stigma associated with HIV-infection and the AIDS disease. Strengthening the health infrastructure to improve mother-and-child health, antenatal, delivery and postnatal services, and couples counseling generates enormous spillover effects toward combating the AIDS epidemic in developing regions.
United States Census Bureau statistics show life expectancy in sub-Saharan Africa falling to around 30 years of age within a decade, the lowest in a century, and project life expectancy in 2010 to be 29 years of age in Botswana, 30 years of age in Swaziland, 33 years of age in Namibia and Zimbabwe, and 36 years of age in South Africa, Malawi, and Rwanda, in contrast to a life expectancy of 70 years of age in many of the countries without a high prevalence of AIDS.
A January 2000 United States National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) report on the global infectious disease threat concluded that the economic costs of infectious diseases—especially HIV/AIDS—are already significant and could reduce GDP by as much as 20 percent or more by 2010 in some sub-Saharan African nations.
According to the same NIE report, HIV prevalence among militias in Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo are estimated at 40 to 60 percent, and at 15 to 30 percent in Tanzania.
The HIV/AIDS epidemic is of increasing concern in other regions of the world, with UNAIDS estimating that there are more than 5,600,000 cases in South and South-east Asia, that the rate of HIV infection in the Caribbean is second only to sub-Saharan Africa, and that HIV infections have doubled in just 2 years in the former Soviet Union.
Accordingly, United States financial support for medical research, education, and disease containment as a global strategy has beneficial ramifications for millions of Americans and their families who are affected by this disease, and the entire population which is potentially susceptible.
(b) PurposesThe purposes of this chapter are to—
help prevent human suffering through the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of HIV/AIDS; and