People may tire of hearing or reading about acquired
immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and all the attendant problems
associated with the disease, but it's time to swallow hard and start
preparing for the harsh realities facing business, which have to do
with financial health and for society in general, which means,
literally, life or death.
Concern about the impact on business and society is reflected in
a well done "primer for AIDS education in the workplace" published
by three institutions with more than passing interest in the
eventual outcome - the American Foundation for AIDS Research, the
American Council of Life Insurance and the Health Association of
America. Twenty other organizations signed on as co-sponsors.
The booklet, relying on data furnished by the Palo Alto Medical
Foundation and Research Institute, says economists now believe that
AIDS will cost this country as much as $66.5 billion in the year
1991. In that same year, personal medical care costs alone are
expected to reach $8.5 billion. By contrast, the total cost of AIDS
in 1986 was $8.7 billion. The worst, it appears, is yet to come.
For those concerned about taxes in this election year, see what
awaits you in 1991: higher taxes.
It's the price to be exacted for controlling AIDS. And the
discussion is not limited to federal expenditures and revenues.
"Higher taxes will be required to fund state and local
governments facing shortages of facilities and staff to provide
necessary care," declares the publication's impact statement.
Federal exenditures for AIDS-related health services - Medicaid
benefits and others - will exceed $1.3 billion in fiscal 1988. By
1991, however, these outlays will reach $2.3 billion. And, by
extension, the rising costs, inexorably, apply greater pressures on
the resources of state and local governments.
Through it all, the government will be spending more on
research, on blood screening, education and support services.
The point of the publication, titled AIDS Education/A Guide to
Business, is that companies both large and small are discovering
that they aren't immune to what has become a major public health
According to estimates made in mid-summer, 1.5 million persons
in this country already had been infected with human
immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the viral agent responsible for causing