AIDS - Europe's New Plague

Written by Sam Vaknin

The region which brought yourepparttar Black Death, communism and all-pervasive kleptocracy now presents: AIDS. The process of enlargement torepparttar 132302 east may, unwittingly, openrepparttar 132303 European Union's doors torepparttar 132304 two scourges of inordinately brutal organized crime and exceptionally lethal disease. As Newsweek noted,repparttar 132305 threat is greater and nearer than any hysterically conjured act of terrorism.

The effective measure of quarantiningrepparttar 132306 HIV-positive inhabitants ofrepparttar 132307 blighted region to prevent a calamity of medieval proportions is proscribed byrepparttar 132308 latest vintage of politically correct liberalism. The West can only help them improve detection and treatment. But this is a tall order.

East European medicine harbors fantastic pretensions to west European standards of quality and service. But it is encumbered with African financing, German bureaucracy and Vietnamese infrastructure. Sincerepparttar 132309 implosion of communism in 1989, deteriorating incomes, widespread unemployment and social disintegration plunged people into abject poverty, making it impossible to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

A report published in September byrepparttar 132310 European regional office ofrepparttar 132311 World Health Organization (WHO) pegs at 46repparttar 132312 percentage ofrepparttar 132313 general population inrepparttar 132314 countries ofrepparttar 132315 former communist bloc living on less than $4 a day - close to 170 million people. Crumbling and desperately underfunded healthcare systems, ridden by corruption and cronyism, ceased to provide evenrepparttar 132316 appearance of rudimentary health services.

The number of women who die at - ever rarer - childbirth skyrocketed. Transition has trimmed Russian life expectancy by well over a decade to 59, lower than in India. People lead brutish and nasty lives only to expire in their prime, often inebriated. Inrepparttar 132317 republics of former Yugoslavia, respiratory and digestive tract diseases run amok. Stress and pollution conspire to reap a grim harvest throughoutrepparttar 132318 wastelands of eastern Europe. The rate of Tuberculosis in Romania exceeds that of sub-Saharan Africa.

UNAIDS and WHO have just published their AIDS Epidemic Update. It states unequivocally: "In Eastern Europe and Central Asia,repparttar 132319 number of people living with Human Immunodeficiency Virus - HIV - in 2002 stood at 1.2 million. HIV/AIDS is expanding rapidly inrepparttar 132320 Baltic States,repparttar 132321 Russian Federation and several Central Asian republics."

The figures are grossly understated - and distorting. The epidemic in eastern Europe and central Asia - virtually onrepparttar 132322 European Union's doorstep - is accelerating and its growth rate has surpassed sub-Saharan Africa's. One fifth of all people in this region infected by HIV contractedrepparttar 132323 virus inrepparttar 132324 preceding 12 months. UNAIDS says: "The unfortunate distinction of havingrepparttar 132325 world’s fastest-growing HIV/AIDS epidemic still belongs to Eastern Europe and Central Asia."

Inrepparttar 132326 past eight years, AIDS has been suddenly "discovered" in 30 large Russian cities and in 86 of its 89 regions. Four fifth of all infections inrepparttar 132327 Commonwealth of Independent States -repparttar 132328 debris left byrepparttar 132329 collapse ofrepparttar 132330 USSR - are among people younger than 29. By July this year, new HIV cases surged to 200,000 - up from 11,000 in December 1998.

In St. Petersburg, their numbers multiplied a staggering 250-fold since 1996 to 10,000 new instances diagnosed in 2001. Most of these cases are attributed to intravenous drug use. But, according to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 400 infected women gave birth in a single hospital in St. Petersburg inrepparttar 132331 first nine months of 2002 - compared to 149 throughout last year. About one third ofrepparttar 132332 neonates test HIV-positive within 24 months. The disease has broken loose.

How misleading even these dire data are is revealed by an in-depth study of a single city in Russia, Togliatti. Fully 56 percent of all drug users proved to be HIV-positive, most of them infected inrepparttar 132333 last 2 years. Three quarters of them were unaware of their predicament. One quarter of all prostitutes did not require their customers to use condoms. Two fifths of all "female sex workers" then proceeded to have unsafe intercourse with their mates, husbands, or partners. Studies conducted in Donetsk, Moscow and St. Petersburg found that one seventh of all prostitutes are already infected.

An evidently shocked compiler ofrepparttar 132334 results states: "The study lends further credence to concerns thatrepparttar 132335 HIV/AIDS epidemic in Russian cities could be considerably more severe thanrepparttar 132336 already-high official statistics indicate." The region's governments claim that 1 percent ofrepparttar 132337 population of countries in transition - still a hefty 4 million people - use drugs. But this, too, is a wild underestimate. UNAIDS itself cites a study that concluded that "among Moscow secondary-school students ... 4% had injected drugs".

Quoted in, The Director ofrepparttar 132338 Federal Scientific Center for AIDS at Russia's Ministry of Health, Vadim Pokrovsky, warns that Russia is likely to followrepparttar 132339 "African model" with up to an 80 percent infection rate in some parts. Kaliningrad, with a 4 percent prevalence ofrepparttar 132340 syndrome, he muses, can serve as a blueprint forrepparttar 132341 short-term development ofrepparttar 132342 AIDS epidemic in Russia.

Or, take Uzbekistan. New infections registered inrepparttar 132343 first six months of 2002 surpassedrepparttar 132344 entire caseload ofrepparttar 132345 previous decade. Followingrepparttar 132346 war in Afghanistan, heroin routes have shifted to central Asia, spreading its abuse amongrepparttar 132347 destitute and despondent populations of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. In many of these countries and, to some extent, in Russia and Ukraine, some grades of heroine are cheaper than vodka.

Ominously, reportsrepparttar 132348 European enter forrepparttar 132349 Epidemiological Monitoring of AIDS, as HIV cases among drug users decline, they increase exponentially among heterosexuals. This, for instance, isrepparttar 132350 case in Belarus and Ukraine. The prevalence of HIV among all Ukrainians is 1 percent.

Even relative prosperity and good governance can no longer stemrepparttar 132351 tide. Estonia's infection rate is 50 percent higher than Russia's, even ifrepparttar 132352 AIDS cesspool that isrepparttar 132353 exclave of Kaliningrad is included inrepparttar 132354 statistics. Latvia is not far behind. One of every seven prisoners in Lithuania has fallen prey torepparttar 132355 virus. All three countries will accede torepparttar 132356 European Union in 2004. Pursuant to an agreement signed recently between Russia andrepparttar 132357 EU, Kaliningrad's denizens will travel to all European destinations unencumbered by a visa regime.

Migration and Brain Drain - Part I

Written by Sam Vaknin

Human trafficking and people smuggling are multi-billion dollar industries. At least 50% ofrepparttar 150 million immigrantsrepparttar 132300 world over are illegal aliens. There are 80 million migrant workers found in virtually every country. They flee war, urban terrorism, crippling poverty, corruption, authoritarianism, nepotism, cronyism, and unemployment. Their main destinations arerepparttar 132301 EU andrepparttar 132302 USA - but many end up in lesser countries in Asia or Africa.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) publishedrepparttar 132303 following figures in 1997:

Africa had 20 Million migrant workers, North America - 17 million, Central and South America - 12 million, Asia - 7 million,repparttar 132304 Middle East - 9 million, and Europe - 30 million.

Immigrants make up 15% of staid Switzerland's population, 9% of Germany's and Austria's, 7.5% of France's (though less than 4% of multi-cultural Blairite Britain). There are more than 15 million people born in Latin America living inrepparttar 132305 States. According torepparttar 132306 American Census Bureau, foreign workers comprise 13% ofrepparttar 132307 workforce (up from 9% in 1990). A million have left Russia for Israel. In this past century,repparttar 132308 world has experienced its most sweeping wave of both voluntary and forced immigration - and it does not seem to have abated.

According torepparttar 132309 United Nations Population Division,repparttar 132310 EU would need to import 1.6 million migrant workers annually to maintain its current level of working age population. But it would need almost 9 times as many to preserve a stable workers to pensioners ratio.

The EU may cope with this shortage by simply increasing labour force participation (74% in labour-short Netherlands, for instance). Or it may coerce its unemployed (and women) into low-paid and 3-d (dirty, dangerous, and difficult) jobs. Or it may prolong working life by postponing retirement.

These are not politically palatable decisions. Yet, a wave of xenophobia that hurtled lately across a startled Europe - from Austria to Denmark - won't allowrepparttar 132311 EU to adoptrepparttar 132312 only other solution: mass (though controlled and skill-selective) migration.

As a result, Europe has recently tightened its admission (and asylum) policies even more than it has inrepparttar 132313 1970's. It bolted and shut its gates to primary (economic) migration. Only family reunifications are permitted. Well over 80% of all immigrants to Britain are women joining their husbands, or children joining their father. Migrant workers are often discriminated against and abused and many are expelled intermittently.

Still, economic migrants - lured by European riches - keep pouring in illegally (about half a million every year -to believe The Centre for Migration Policy Development in Vienna). Europe isrepparttar 132314 target of twice as many illegal migrants asrepparttar 132315 USA. Many of them (known as "labour tourists") shuttle across borders seasonally, or commute between home and work - sometimes daily. Hencerepparttar 132316 EU's apprehension at allowing free movement of labour fromrepparttar 132317 candidate countries andrepparttar 132318 "transition periods" (really moratoria) it wishes to impose on them following their long postponed accession.

According torepparttar 132319 American Census Bureau's March 2002 "Current Population Survey", 20% of all US residents are of "foreign stock" (one quarter of them Mexican). They earn less than native-born Americans and are less likely to have health insurance. They are (on average) less educated (only 67% of immigrants age 25 and older completed high school compared to 87% of native-born Americans). Their median income, at $36,000 is 10% lower and only 49% of them own a home (compared to 67% of households headed by native-born Americans). The averages mask huge disparities between Asians and Hispanics, though. Still, these ostensibly dismal figures constitute a vast improvement over comparable data inrepparttar 132320 country of origin.

But these arerepparttar 132321 distant echoes of past patterns of migration. Traditional immigration is becoming gradually less attractive. Immigrants who came to Canada between 1985-1998 earn only 66% ofrepparttar 132322 wages of their predecessors. Labour force participation of immigrants fell to 68% (1996) from 86% (1981).

While most immigrants untilrepparttar 132323 1980's were poor, uneducated, and unskilled -repparttar 132324 current lot is middle-class, reasonably affluent, well educated, and highly skilled. This phenomenon -repparttar 132325 exodus of elites from allrepparttar 132326 developing and less developed countries - is called "brain drain", or "brain hemorrhage" by its detractors (and "brain exchange" or "brain mobility" by its proponents). These metaphors conjure up images ofrepparttar 132327 inevitable outcomes of some mysterious processes,repparttar 132328 market's invisible hand pluckingrepparttar 132329 choicest and teleporting them to more abundant grounds.

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