New HIV infections drop 20 per cent in Asia-Pacific
Aug 26, 2011, 6:22 GMT
Bangkok - The number of new HIV infections in the Asia-Pacific region dropped 20 per cent between 2001 and 2009, as governments invested in preventative programmes and increased access to antiretroviral drugs, a United Nations report said Friday.
Across Asia, the number of new HIV infections dropped from about 450,000 in 2001 to 360,000 in 2009, the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) said in its latest report on the region.
The report was launched in Pusan, South Korea.
'I think it is very important to make the world understand that we are at the crossroads today in Asia and the Pacific, because efforts have been made,' UNAIDS executive director Michel Sidibe said.
But he cautioned, 'We cannot be complacent. In Asia particularly we are seeing a growing number of infections among most-at-risk populations.'
UNAIDS estimated that there are currently about 4.7 million people living with HIV in the region, with most of them in Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Thailand and Vietnam.
The report singled out Cambodia, India, Myanmar and Thailand for having significantly reduced their infection rates by implementing preventative programmes for people who buy and sell sex.
Incidence has also declined because of growing access to life-saving antiretroviral drugs, according to the report.
Between 2006 and 2009 there was a three-fold increase in access to antiretroviral therapy, but even so, the drugs remain unavailable to some 60 per cent of the people living with HIV in the region.
'Cambodia is one of only eight countries in the world to provide antiretroviral therapy to more than 80 per cent of the people eligible for it,' the UNAIDS report said.
Despite the improved picture, UNAIDS warned regional governments to continue to target high-risk populations.
The Philippines, which once boasted one of the slowest HIV infection growth rates, has seen a jump in infections among certain groups.
'In the city of Cebu, HIV prevalence among people who inject drugs increased from 0.6 per cent to 53 per cent between 2009 and 2011,' the UN report noted.
In Indonesia, it was estimated that more than one in three people who inject drugs are HIV positive, and HIV prevalence rates among tested trans-gender sex workers in Jakarta is around 34 per cent.
In 2009, governments of 30 countries in the region spent 1.1 billion dollars on HIV/AIDS programmes.
While countries such as China, Malaysia, Pakistan, Samoa and Thailand funded their own programmes, many less-developed Asian countries were still heavily reliant on outside aid, UNAIDS said.
The UN agency noted that international funding for 'the global AIDS response' declined for the first time in 2010.
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