By Jean Roth

HIV/AIDS Crisis in Africa: A Threat to World Peace and Security

Experts to Convene at UCLA to Examine World Response

The magnitude of the HIV/AIDS global epidemic in some areas of the world has turned the disease into a threat to political and economic security. Nowhere is the crisis more severe than in Africa, where HIV/AIDS has reached staggering proportions, claiming 2.4 million deaths ­-- 80% of all AIDS deaths worldwide -– last year alone. Over 12 million children have been orphaned as a result of the disease, and today 25.3 million Africans live with HIV or AIDS.

As the most productive members of society succumb to the disease, a whole generation of children in Africa are losing its parents, extended family, and other caretakers to AIDS, threatening the very fabric of society. Countries are faced with the challenge of creating institutional and community infrastructures to provide healthcare and education, to help orphans survive, and to break the cycle of poverty, AIDS, and ignorance. The United Nations Programme on HIV/ADIS (UNAIDS) estimates that countries need at least US$ 1.5 billion a year for prevention, and another 1.5 billion for care of HIV patients and families, including orphan care.

 The impact of AIDS on Africa’s work force and national incomes, and drain on government health, education, and social service resources, have been overwhelming, and will continue to devastate the continent without direct and immediate action. But what can be done?

 On February 23, 2001 specialists will gather at UCLA to explore the economic, social and human toll of the HIV/AIDS epidemic on the African continent. The HIV/AIDS Pandemic in Africa and World Response, part of a public education forum sponsored each year by the James S. Coleman African Studies Center (JSCASC) and International Studies and Overseas Programs (ISOP), will take place from 8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. at the School of Public Policy and Social Research, Room 2343. 

 Following an introduction by keynote speaker Congresswoman Maxine Waters, roundtable sessions will examine the pandemic, ensuing measures, domestic as well as international, and future policy implications. Panelists and speakers, including government officials, academics, and specialists from the United Nations, the World Bank, and other international organizations, will discuss prevention, treatment, research and pharmaceutical ethics, as well as prospects for tackling this global tragedy. 

 “Last month the U.N. Security Council renewed its commitment to combating the HIV/AIDS epidemic as a threat to world peace and stability,” said Edmond J. Keller, director of the James S. Coleman African Studies Center, “It also recognized that sub-Saharan Africa is the epicenter of the pandemic, and that political and military conflicts increase susceptibility to AIDS by creating a cycle of social and economic crisis that often leads to further instability. This makes the issue of AIDS in Africa a focus for international concern, prompting Secretary General Kofi Annan to call for a comprehensive effort by the global community to stem the HIV/AIDS crisis in Africa.”

  At a conference in Geneva a year ago Annan outlined a six-tiered coordinated effort that included the local communities that bear the burden of care and education; the African political leadership who must make the epidemic a national priority; the NGOs who coordinate efforts and make governments accountable; the corporate sector; the United Nations and its various programs and funds; and high-income donor countries who must make more resources available.

 “ By bringing together government officials, scholars, and representatives from various agencies involved in this effort, we hope to investigate what sort of international response can help restore health to the continent, to facilitate communication between some of the parties involved in the process, and to educate the public about the immediacy and severity of this issue,” Keller said.

Panelists and speakers at the conference include:

  •  Maxine Waters, congresswoman
  • Melvin Foote, president and CEO, Constituency for Africa
  • Stephanie Urdang, advisor on Gender and HIV/AIDS, United Nation Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM)
  • Cynthia Davis, Program Director & Assistant Professor -- Charles R. Drew University
  • Michelle Cochran -- International Medical Corps
  • Paul Zeitz, Co-Director – Global AIDS Alliance
  • Phil Wilson, Director – African American AIDS Policy & Training
  • Debrework Zewdie, program manager, The World Bank AIDS Campaign for Africa
  • Vivian Derryck, USAID administrator for Africa
  • Salih Booker, executive director, African Policy Information Center and The Africa Fund
  • Catherine Boone, University of Texas, Austin, professor of political science
  • Saidi Kapiga, professor, Harvard University, professor of population and international health

The conference is free and open to the public, but registration is encouraged. To register, or for further information, contact the JSCASC at (310) 825-3686;;

Published: Thursday, February 01, 2001