Actually the Scotsman puts it like this: “Enlargement of the European Union in May will bring the world?s fastest-growing area of HIV infection on to the doorstep of the EU, United Nations experts warned today.”
Which pretty much scandalises me: how can you turn a human tragedy into a eurosceptic thing, for gods sake? The problem isn’t either nearer or farther due to the enlargement process: it is simply there. The background to this is that Peter Piot, executive director of UNAids, the UN body with responsibilities for HIV/Aids, has been speaking at the start of a conference today in Dublin, held at the invitation of the Irish EU presidency. Among the preoccupying facts contained in Piot’s speech: as many as one in 100 adults in the eastern European states and their neighbours Ukraine and Russia are infected with HIV , and the numbers are growing fast.
?Of the states who are to join, the Baltic states particularly are affected. Then you have got at the borders Ukraine and Russia, where 1% of all adults are infected.
?What may be more important is that in 10 years? time, the number of people infected with HIV has multiplied by 50. There are now about 1.5 million people living with HIV on the doorstep of the EU.?
Would it be unduly hard-hearted of me to point out that these countries are already facing the most dramatic population crisis in Europe. ‘Sempre plou sobre mullat’ we say in Catalan (it always rains on the wet). Is there nothing we can get right. Couldn’t we try, just this once.
The European Union faces a mounting Aids epidemic on its eastern borders that it is doing little to address, the United Nations warned yesterday.
Peter Piot, executive director of UNAids, the UN body for HIV/Aids, said that while the EU was very active in Aids programmes in Africa, it was paying little attention to the epidemic in eastern Europe and central Asia, where infection rates were growing faster than anywhere else in the world.
He was speaking ahead of a conference today in Dublin, held at the invitation of the Irish EU presidency, which will bring together health ministers from 55 countries in the region to discuss the impact of Aids.
According to UNAids, the number of people infected with HIV in eastern Europe and central Asia has increased from 30,000 in 1995 to 1.5m last year. However, only 7,000 people in the region were receiving Aids drugs, around 9 per cent of those who need them.
Dr Piot said infections in central Asia were still limited to high-risk groups such as drug-users, though in Ukraine there was a risk of the epidemic breaking into the broader society.
In an article for FT.com, Dr Piot and Bertie Ahern, the Irish prime minister, warn: “The threat to social stability and security [from the Aids epidemic] will be felt across all of Europe and Asia.”
As the EU expands to take in a number of countries in eastern Europe, Dr Piot said it now had greater responsibility to promote treatment and prevention programmes in the region and to encourage policies such as needle exchanges and treatment for addiction for drug-users.
Source: Financial Times