UNAIDS Report Says 50M Women In Asia At Risk Of HIV Infection From Intimate Partners

A UNAIDS report released Tuesday at the 9th International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific (ICAAP) in Bali, Indonesia, estimates that more than 90 percent of the 1.7 million HIV-positive women living in Asia were infected by husbands or long-term partners who engaged in “high-risk sexual behaviours,” Agence France-Presse reports. The UNAIDS report also found “women accounted for 35 percent of all adult HIV infections in Asia in 2008, up from 17 percent in 1990, the AFP writes.

“(It’s) a problem of great magnitude that the countries have largely ignored (and) a challenge that we may no longer ignore,” UNAIDS regional director Prasada Rao said (8/11).  According to a UNAIDS release, “[a]n estimated 50 million women in Asia are at risk of becoming infected with HIV from their intimate partners. … The HIV epidemics in Asia vary between countries in the region, but are fuelled by unprotected paid sex, the sharing of contaminated injecting equipment by injecting drug users, and unprotected sex among men who have sex with men” (8/11).

During ICAAP on Monday, Rao told delegates that the Asia Pacific region is on track to expand the numbers of people living with HIV who are receiving antiretrovirals from 565,000 to more than 1 million by 2011 – a goal he says is attainable thanks to incoming “global funding,” the AFP reports in a separate story (8/10).

The Jakarta Post reports on statements made by Michel Kazatchkine, executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, during ICAAP, that while the Global Fund intends to help connect people living with HIV/AIDS to life-saving treatments, the current economic crisis continues to shift countries attention away from public health funding to their own economic recovery (Maulia, 8/10).

The Hindu examines efforts to prevent and control the spread of HIV in Asia by improving “human rights protections for people living with HIV and typically marginalised populations such as men who have sex with men, transgender people, sex workers, people who use drugs, prisoners and detainees,” a topic of discussion at the international congress (8/11). The Phnom Penh Post also examines how punitive laws are impeding efforts to fight HIV/AIDS (Green, 8/11).

Viet Nam News reports on how youth from the Asia Pacific region are participating in ICAAP and advocating for youth-friendly HIV policies (Hien, 8/11).

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