Woe is the world plagued with disease, malnutrition, pollution, tyrannies, and corruption. Everyone loves to commiserate about these seemingly insolvable and ever-worsening problems, but no one ever attempts to solve them. A group of academics has finally stepped in, and using rather complex cost-benefit analyses, they’ve made a list of the most effectives causes to attack given fifty billion dollars or less.
No surprise, AIDS topped the list. The numbers are devastating: as of 2003, there are 40 million people living with HIV/AIDS, and in 2003 alone there were 5 million new AIDS infections and 3 million AIDS deaths. Although the virus is spread rapidly and death tolls are constantly growing, there is hope.
Prevention—save sex and condom use—is not expensive. But it will be difficult to change the cultural barriers in many African and Asian societies to having protected, monogamous sex. It will also be difficult to convince the American government to promote any program besides absolute abstinence, which has been almost entirely ineffective.
Treatment—drug cocktails made by big western companies—is extraordinarily expensive. So expensive that in the developing countries where AIDS/HIV infection rates are highest, treatment is almost a non-option. Patents prevent generic AIDS medicine from being produced by ready and willing factories in India and elsewhere.
A dollar spent now will save ten dollars five years from now.
Preventing and treating the AIDS/HIV epidemic is an idea advocates have tried to get addressed for over 20 years. But it still hasn’t caught on.
There are more causes than just the local PTA book drive. Help become an agent of change for something that can save hundreds of millions of lives.