Clinton: AIDS crisis threatens U.S. security

The Clinton administration declared in May that the global AIDS crisis threatens U.S. national security because of its devastating effect on African military forces and other infrastructure.

"Look at southern Africa . . . at the progress they’ve made as far as economic and democratic reform," White House Press Secretary Joe Lockhart said at a press briefing. "And then you look at the infrastructure . . . you’ve got projections in some places where 50% of the military will contract HIV/AIDS in the not-too-distant future."

Lockhart said there has been no official designation, but the president and the National Security Council (NSC) consider AIDS a major threat.

"We have an interest in Africa, as far as our own national security, and we need to look at this problem as the NSC has done — very much so this year, but going back over the last couple of years — as a national security issue," Lockhart said.

The United States is contributing $250 million toward preventing HIV infection in African nations, which is only a beginning as far as what is needed, Lockhart added.

"We have to do more as far as working with Congress to get resources," he said. "We have to do more as far as mobilizing the international community and getting other countries [involved]. This is not a U.S. problem alone. There are other countries in the world with an interest in making sure that this problem is effectively dealt with."

(Editor’s note: AIDS Alert will provide more information about how the global AIDS crisis threatens national security in the next installment of AIDS Alert International, which will be published in August 2000.)