HIV Prevention, Treatment Must Be Expanded In Asia-Pacific, Delegates At Regional Meeting Say

More needs to be done to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and increase access to treatments for patients living with the disease, according to representatives from 24 Asia-Pacific countries attending a regional United Nations meeting in Bangkok this week, VOA News reports (Schearf, 3/30).

According to UNAIDS estimates, approximately five million people in Asia are living with HIV, the AAP/Sydney Morning Herald reports. “While India, Nepal and Thailand saw new infection rates fall by 25 per cent in the eight years to 2009, new HIV infections rose by more than 25 per cent in Bangladesh and the Philippines over the same period,” according to the news service (Corben, 3/30).

Anupama Rao Singh, regional director for UNICEF in East Asia and the Pacific, “says only 30 percent of adults and 44 percent of children who need the treatments [in the region] are able to get them,” according to VOA News (3/30).

“New infections are outstripping the response and certainly access to treatment people can have,” Murray Proctor, Australia’s ambassador on HIV/AIDS, said in an address to the delegates gathered at the meeting, AAP/Sydney Morning Herald continues. According to the news service, Murray highlighted the need to promote HIV prevention, particularly among high-risk groups, and called attention to the international efforts supported by Australia to reduce discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS ( 3/30).

“UNAIDS says laws in Asia against same-sex relations and that criminalize drug addicts and sex workers undermine prevention and treatment programs, putting more people at risk of infection,” VOA News continues. “The U.N. body says 19 countries still outlaw same-sex relations and 16 restrict travel for people infected with HIV” (3/30).