22. Information Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs (Keyes) to Secretary of State Shultz1


  • WHO Action on AIDS Attracts Great Interest

The World Health Organization’s coordinator for action on the disease AIDS received serious attention during four days of briefings in Washington last week. Dr. Jonathan Mann, a very impressive young officer of the DHHS Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, has been loaned to WHO for two years to coordinate AIDS program activity.

Of particular concern in international terms is the possibility that AIDS could cancel out developmental progress in many of the poorer nations, especially in Africa. AIDS is having its primary impact on people aged 20–40, precisely the generation that is best trained and active in trying to get countries moving economically and politically. It is reported that 5 to 10 per cent of newborn children in some areas may carry the virus. As those now identified as carriers of the AIDS virus develop actual cases of the debilitating and fatal disease, the costs of medical care in those countries will increase dramatically. Dr. Mann told us it is essential that the countries of Asia and South America, where the disease has had only minimal impact, move now on prevention programs.

[Page 57]

Dr. Mann’s visit has helped to galvanize State, AID and DHHS officers to give more immediate attention to the disease. WHO and the countries involved will need substantially greater resources if they are to make progress in testing, prevention, public education and other control programs, and to give accelerated attention to development of a vaccine and curative therapy. By 1990, WHO estimates that $1.5 billion will be needed annually for WHO’s coordinative programs, in addition to the direct bilateral assistance needed by developing countries. We have been assisting Dr. Mann in making contacts with foundations and other potential donors.

We believe Dr. Mann’s visit helped us to make better known the effective work of the UN specialized agencies, on the Hill and elsewhere. We will do more of this as opportunities arise.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, P870060–2521. No classification marking. Drafted by Boyer on December 10; cleared by Vogelgesang and Kriebel.