Some weeks ago, the United States government declared AIDS a threat to its national security. This sounded a bit remote, for developing countries are in a better position to say so. Citizens in California, for example, have better income and access to drugs than those in Lagos, Kampala or Kigali. The US, according to its explanation, is threatened because the demographic crisis that AIDS portends is threatening nascent democracies in some third world countries.
AIDS is a real threat to every developing country. We do not care about the threat it poses to democracy as much as it does to our survival. In the developing world, the difference between democracy and dictatorship is largely in name. We are rather concerned that unless urgent measures are taken both by government and individuals, many developing countries will soon face, or are in fact facing a crisis of extinction.
Yes, extinction! Unless both a vaccine and an affordable drug against the disease are urgently discovered, without exaggeration, populations will be reduced to just a quarter of their present size in the next few decades. The seriousness of the resulting socio-economic crisis will make life meaningless for the survivors.
Some may think that this will be a positive demographic development since the plenty resources on which we are killing one another today will be left to the few survivors then, forgetting that under-population will become a serious problem. Studies, especially from Southern Africa, have shown that the immediate target of AIDS is the sexually active population that is essential for designing, building and maintaining infrastructures in the urban areas and for cultivating farmlands in rural areas. The resulting disease, poverty and collapse of infrastructure will make life miserable for the few survivors, most of whom will be children and the elderly. They will have no option but to turn to the developed countries and beg them to colonize them once more.
I am not being alarmist for nothing. The threat is real; it is here already. A week after the announcement by the United State government, Rwanda gave us a graphic picture of the threat. It said over 75% of patients in its hospitals suffer from AIDS related diseases! I believe that, as a government, it was putting it mildly. But the reader is free to imagine what the situation will be if it grows unchecked ten or twenty years from now. How many people will remain in that tiny country? Hutus and Tutsis as well as Hausas and the southern Zarians, will then out of necessity learn to be good neighbors.
We should not be led to believe that the situation is worse in the South African region. No doubt, studies have shown that the disease reached the region earlier and its epidemeology is in a more advanced stage than ours. Nevertheless, hospitals in Nigeria today are witnessing a horrifying scourge of AIDS, even here in the North. A medical doctor in a nearby teaching hospital makes a hyperbole of the situation, saying, “it is now as common as malaria.”
For sometime now, there has been a debate on the origin of AIDS. The DNA of the virus cannot be traced in nature. This fact suggests that it was manufactured, somewhere. There have been publications in Russian and Indian press strongly suggesting that it was invented in a military laboratory in Detroit, USA.
This will not come as a surprise because for the past fifty years the progressive decline of populations in the West has caused a lot of panic regarding the future of their civilization and people. In this column, we have once cited a case of a community in Italy where birth death ratio is 1:37. What is more frightening is that the social factors that engendered this disaster seem to be irreversible given the foundations upon which the Western society is built, concepts of freedom, individualism, capitalism and so on.
And nature is severely revengeful. No one violates its rules and go Scott-free. The West is facing extinction, the price it has to pay for succumbing to the Malthusian doctrine and flouting the natural rules of population dynamics.
Where do we feature in all this? Now, after realizing this, the West is attempting to balance population distribution. It has always shown concern over the growing population of the developing world while their own is retreating. The Global 2000 report has fully enunciated this. If the West has to survive, it said about two billion people in the ‘Third World” has to be wiped out.
The world has witnessed a number of ways by which this could be achieved. Many steps have been taken, some of them very unholy though. Apart from preaching the virtues of family planning that destroyed the West itself, they are ready to supply us with condoms at a ridiculously low price, sometimes free of charge. More disturbing however is the way populations are infected with diseases through means that cannot rule out doubt over sabotage. Three months ago, in Egypt, over six million people were reportedly infected with the Hepatitis B virus. The explanation given was too simple to be true. The authorities said it was through contaminated syringes that were not sterilized since a vaccination in 1956! The press is full of such stories. About fifteen years ago, a controversy ensued in the UK when a newspaper that consignments of smallpox vaccine sent to Kenya was contaminated with Hepatitis B virus.
It will not be surprising if one day the world bitterly learns that the civilization that manufactured anthrax was responsible for manufacturing the AIDS virus and infected populations that were in its bad books. But then it will be too late. I think this is what the South African President, Mr. Thabo Mbeki, is trying to put across but his leadership position will not allow him do so plainly. Our scientists, who are less sophisticated than those of the West, would find this hard to believe.
But one day the West itself will declassify this information, as they have done to other population programs in the past, like the sterilization of a group of women in Switzerland early this century. Meanwhile, what evidence is better than the recent public confession by a former South African police officer that part of his duty was to store and transmit HIV contaminated blood to black nationalist populations?
This article was meant to alert the public on the danger that AIDS poses to our survival. Whether the reader and the authorities would like to believe my version that it is a calculated warfare or reject is as merely conjectural, the obvious cannot be dismissed. AIDS is here with us. Forget about its origin, how do we win the battle against it?
Before discussing the role of government, I would like to say that the greatest responsibility rests on us, the citizens. If only we will agree to value our lives better and be less promiscuous, we would certainly stand a better chance of avoiding the virus. It is a pity to note that the conduct of most of us in this respect is totally not encouraging.
The innocent may not be totally safe though. With every new sexual relation, through marriage or otherwise, the probability of infection becomes higher. The virus now has moved to our homes. With deaths of husbands who suffered the infection, innocent homes are infected from widows of the deceased victims. I have seen many such cases. Furthermore, any member of the family can transmit it to the rest once blood contact takes place. And how often does it, especially through nail cutters, blades and so on!
The point to remember here is that the epidemic has reached a stage where all of us have become vulnerable. The righteous is not protected in his fortress of piety. May God save us!
Socially we need to take some practical measures. New couples must have the courage to go for HIV test. The Catholic Church has taken the laudable lead in this respect. It is time that we do the same, especially given our culture of polygamy. Public enlightenment in mosques and other gatherings has also become mandatory. Let the social stigmatization of AIDS infection give way to accommodation and sympathy. The bold among us, and how I wish we were collectively so, should go for a test periodically. Early diagnosis of infection offers a better chance of survival and will definitely prevent the spread of the virus to others.
Government however must shoulder the responsibility of providing every hospital with HIV screening kits continuously. It should also legislate that, where such facilities exist, except under terribly precarious circumstances, blood must be screened before transfusion. By government here we do not mean the federal government alone. Nothing stops local and state governments from providing such facilities, even if patients will offset the cost. The provision of the kits and the legislation will be praiseworthy. We also suggest that government must ensure that vaccines imported into the country are completely free of contamination even if they are supplied under the cover of the World Health Organization.
A lot more has to be done on public enlightenment. It appears that what is going on is too minimal to match the pace of the spread of the disease. Schools, universities, theatres, the media, market places, mosques and churches are all avenues for a successful campaign.
The greatest responsibility of government given the present status quo however is to support research, especially now that there are claims within that carry some elements of credibility. We should not play into the hands of the West that would like us to give up by believing that the disease is indomitable. Such a belief serves their interest and I am sorry to say that is what is widely held by experts, either out of envy for the discoveries of their colleagues or out of sheer simplicity.
I would not like to believe that there is no cure for AIDS. The fact is either the West is hiding it from us or they are not really interested in one. So let us encourage our scientists and traditionalists at home to come out with something useful.
Here, I would like to narrate a delighting story. Sometime ago, a friend came to my office looking sad. He did not sleep the previous night. On inquiry he told me that his little sister that has for sometime failed to respond to treatments has finally been diagnosed HIV positive. People have lost hope in her survival. I told this friend that he should not worry, that there is cure for AIDS today. He should put trust in God; that one day, by His Grace of God, we will gladly witness the wedding of his sister.
With this bravado, we managed to fund his trip to where we thought a remedy exists. After taking the treatment for eight weeks, the sister has recovered wonderfully. The skin is free of infection, it has dried and presently peeling. She now responds quickly to antibiotics, eats a lot, and full of vitality. Her head that was decomposing has a beautiful hair gradually covering it. The viral count has fallen drastically. I always feel delighted seeing her run around, playing happily among other kids. Blessed is God. He is the Greatest!
Due to different strains of the virus, there may not be a single cure at this preliminary stage of such discoveries. However, I find the argument that there is no cure for AIDS too universal and repulsive to accept as truth. Argument may not be necessary, the war is already on and whatever the origin, it is against a microbe.
Here, I find no better conclusion than the one used by Laurie Garrett, the author of a voluminous book on the subject titled The Coming Plague. She said, ‘While the human race battles itself, fighting over more crowded turf and scarcer resources, the advantage moves to the microbes’ court. They are our predators and they will be victorious if we, Homo sapiens, do not learn how to live in a rational global village that affords the microbes few opportunities."