The Banality of A Global Holocaust

The U.N. released their report on worldwide HIV/AIDS infection yesterday, to little fanfare. After all, a man had just completed circumnavigating the globe in a balloon — the world had far more important matters on its mind.
A few statistics from the report:
– In Zimbabwe, the size of an average primary school class will be down by nearly 25% in 2010 due to HIV
– The expected lifespan for a person born in South Africa was 60 years in 1990. It is now 47 years.
– In seven countries in sub-Saharan Africa, infant mortality has increased between 20% and 40% due to HIV
– In Botswana, life expectancy is 37 years, down from 60 just five years ago.
– Between 2000 and 2020, the U.N. estimates that 68 million people will die as a result of HIV.
It has struck me for some time that the HIV crisis has become a horrifying example of the journalistic mantra “if it happens every day, it can’t be news.”. We’ve heard so much about HIV over the past years that we’ve become mentally saturated; the warnings and predictions simply slide off of us, unnoticed. When they are given any media play at all, that is.
Or is it the simple truth that people have a difficult time truly grasping suffering and death which occurs thousands of miles from their homes? If so, I think we need to keep in mind that if simple human decency doesn’t move us to act, enlightened self-interest should. Ross over at the Bloviator revisits an issue that I and others have discussed previously — the simple truth that if you have states which are, effectively, collapsing due to the HIV/AIDs epidemic, you inevitably end up with regions which are ripe for political unrest, terrorism, and even genocide.
I throw out the question to you, then: why is the prediction that millions of people will die every year, and the potential prospect for widespread state failures on an entire contintent, being met with such indifference?
To put matters in perspective, I added the U.N.’s prediction to data on some more familiar tragedies of the 20th century and created the chart to the right; I used numbers from The History Place. I’d add a clever or pithy comment here to describe the chart, but frankly, it leaves me without very much at all to say.
There is, of course, always the possibility or argument that the U.N.’s data is simply wrong; or deliberately inflated. I’d welcome data to advance that thesis — because frankly, I’d feel a whole lot better if it were proven true.
Clarification: The six million deaths quoted for the Nazi Holocaust is of course the number of Jews who were killed. I am well aware that many non-Jewish people were killed; however, in my haste this morning I was unable to find a source to cite for an accurate count of the non-Jewish total. Anyone who can provide one, please post in the comments.
Update: Ross found a source — at the Red Cross of all places — stating the total number of Holocaust dead at 11 million, which sounds about right to me. (Don’t expect a chart update anytime soon — it’s a pain).
Back on Topic Update: Den Beste makes a grim but compelling case that we need to consider drastic measures when dealing with — or not dealing with — the epidemic.