Potential Big Trouble: AIDS – SARS Duet

Thanks to Conrad, here’s a link to the scariest article I’ve seen on SARS yet, echoing Andrew Sullivan’s prophetic fears of AIDS and SARS working in tandem to devastate the poorer parts of Asia.

I have no choice, I have to quote a healthy chunk:

If just one person infected with SARS is on any of the countless trains now leaving Beijing, these trains could significantly increase the speed of the spread of SARS throughout China’s interior. The tragic irony of this exodus is that everyone leaving Beijing hopes to avoid getting SARS there, but they will in all likelihood contract and spread it throughout the country, to strangers, friends and family. Which brings us back to HIV/AIDS.

Beijing has admitted to covering up SARS statistics in order to preserve the image of normalcy. This seriously hurts the CCP’s credibility…. It is obvious that the highest levels of government in China are not averse to lying to its constituency or the world in order to maintain an image as a safe, stable environment for foreign direct investment.

Assuming that SARS makes its way to every populated area of China, it is quite plausible that China’s SARS deaths could experience a ferocious increase. SARS is an atypical pneumonia caused by a coronavirus. AIDS sufferers are particularly susceptible to pneumonias. Indeed, the most common serious infection among AIDS patients in the United States is a type of pneumonia called Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP), which is typically fatal if not identified and treated quickly. Identification requires a laboratory test of fluid or tissue from a patient’s lungs. Unfortunately, most of the people with AIDS, in Henan in particular, do not have access to laboratories, nor the money to pay for tests and treatment….Unfortunately, because of Beijing’s foolish handling of HIV, and now SARS, many Chinese are going to die. The question is how many.

It seems apparent from the government’s reaction to either epidemic that the economy is its top priority. Therefore it is reasonable to conclude that Beijing will do little to protect China’s impoverished hinterland. This makes it quite plausible that SARS could kill tens or hundreds of thousands of people in China alone.

So this is the one week of my entire life that I have designated for travel through China’s remote hinterlands. Can you believe it? Can you fucking believe it?

______________

Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

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September 6, 2006 @ 6:21 pm | Comment

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