AIDS Experts Predict the Epidemic’s Future in Newsday
In the first of a three-part series commemorating the 20th anniversary of the first reported AIDS cases, Newsday profiles several AIDS experts' predictions for the future of the epidemic. Dr. Mathilde Krim, founder of the American Foundation for AIDS Research and "one of a handful" of doctors and scientists who first noticed the disease among homosexual men in 1981, said the future of AIDS "is too terrible to consider." Dr. David Ho, director of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center, added, "I was there at the beginning of the epidemic. But I'm sure I won't be around for the end." Ho described predictions of the pandemic in Asia, saying that China expects to see between five and six million HIV cases by 2005. He added, "Some would argue that in India and China, we won't see the African scenario play out. I agree -- maybe not 25% (prevalence of HIV) -- but 5%, that's enormous, that's my fear." Newsday also cites Mozambique's Minister of Health, who stated at the WHO meeting in Geneva earlier this month, "In 10 years', 15 years' time, we might have no people living in some countries! Time is going by and we are spending our time in meetings. ... And time and death is marching!" Epidemiologist Andrew Moss of the University of California-San Francisco, who also has been following the epidemic since 1981, described AIDS as "an apocalyptic event, the worst event in human history," comparing the epidemic to the syphilis outbreak of the 19th century. Epidemiologist Jim Curran, dean of the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, concurred that AIDS "should best be compared with the tolls of such ancient killers as gonorrhea, malaria and tuberculosis." Curran added that "[e]very forecast (of HIV infections) has proven way too low." However, Jim Chin, who was an AIDS forecaster for WHO in the 1980s and now consults for Asian governments, predicts a "far less grim view of the future" of AIDS. Chin forecasted that "there never will be a major HIV explosion in Asia, nor will Africa's toll reach the horrible extremes cited by the Census Bureau," saying that AIDS cases have stabilized in Africa and have "pretty much peaked" in Asia. But Karen Stanecki, who lead's the bureau's team of plague forecasters, called Chin "the furthest to one extreme" (Garrett, Newsday, 5/29). The Newsday series on AIDS includes a timeline of events and a piece on "The Changing Faces of AIDS."This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.