EARLIER this year, Populi, the magazine of the United...

Salmagundi

July 06, 1994

EARLIER this year, Populi, the magazine of the United Nations Population Fund, produced a special issue on AIDS. It contained this assessment of the epidemic on population growth:

"It is time to dispel the notion that the human immuno-deficiency virus (HIV)/AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) pandemic will significantly reduce and even reverse population growth, according to experts who participated in a [1993] round-table conference in Berlin.

"Despite persistent rumors to the contrary, HIV/AIDS infection rates are unlikely to make a significant dent in any given country's population growth rates, the experts concluded, citing the latest evidence form the most-affected African countries and cities. The evidence suggests that, in these places, the HIV/AIDS infection rate reaches a plateau at 25-30 percent of the population. This is far short of the infection rates that would halt, let alone reverse, population growth. . .

"The main impact of AIDS, the experts said, will be to lower life expectancy through increased infant and young adult mortality; impede economic development as it kills people in their productive years; and force dramatic social change by depriving societies of many of their young and middle-aged adults, particularly women, while making orphans of their children. . .

"However, the experts added that some sub-national regions and a small number of large cities could experience markedly reduced population growth for short periods. But these downswings would be quickly canceled by immigration from surrounding areas. . .

"In their view, 10-15 percent of the populations of the most seriously affected countries are HIV-positive, meaning that they carry HIV antibodies, the presence of which indicates HIV

infection. By contrast, in order for AIDS to reduce a country's population growth to zero, almost half of its inhabitants would have to be infected. Most participants at the Berlin meeting said they felt that was unlikely."

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