News / Asia

Asia Faces Tough Fight in Keeping HIV Infection Rate Low

Asia Faces Tough Fight in Keeping HIV Infection Rate Low
Asia Faces Tough Fight in Keeping HIV Infection Rate Low

Multimedia

Brian Padden

At the coming AIDS conference in Vienna, experts will examine the state of the global fight against HIV. The United Nations says most Asian countries have an AIDS infection rate of less than one percent. But because of the large populations, that translates to almost five-million people living with HIV. Health experts say the key to preventing a widespread epidemic in Asia is to reach out to people engaging in high-risk behaviors.

Rasta, like many first-time patients at an AIDS clinic in Jakarta, is apprehensive.

She says she is afraid of what she might find out from the HIV test.

The clinic is one of the more than 700 facilities working to stem the rising HIV infection rate in Indonesia. Here, like in many parts of Asia, AIDS is concentrated within groups that participate in high-risk behaviors, such as sex workers, homosexual men and injecting drug users.

The U.S. Agency for International Development's HIV/AIDS advisor here, Lisa Baldwin, says while Indonesia has only a 0.1 percent HIV infection rate nationally, the rate for injecting drug users in Jakarta is 56 percent. For sex workers it is 16 percent.

Baldwin says working with these high-risk groups now could prevent a wider epidemic in Indonesia and many other parts of Asia.

"They are a population that could really be a bridging population to the more general community," said Baldwin. "So I think there is opportunity to really clamp down and keep this more contained but there are also opportunities for this to spill out."

In addition to taking blood samples and testing for HIV, the staff at the clinic also counsel clients to use condoms during sex and use sterile needles to prevent infection.

Some in the Islamic religious community object to these programs, which they say condone immoral behavior. But Nafsia Mboi, the secretary-general of the Indonesian National AIDS Prevention Commission, says its role is not to judge the patient but to treat and prevent the disease.

"While those that think this is a disease of sinners, I usually say, well they are still Indonesian, sinners or not sinners," Mboi said. "They are still Indonesian and they have the right to life and the right to health, the right to education and so that is our responsibility."

In China, the United Nations says 700,000 people live with HIV or AIDS. Chinese health officials say in the past, misinformation about how the disease spreads, discrimination and a lack of treatment made people reluctant to seek help.

But they say today education efforts like this public service announcement featuring basketball player Yao Ming have helped increase understanding.

And with support from international organizations like the Global Fund, antiretroviral drugs to treat AIDS are increasingly available in China and elsewhere in Asia.

These developments have encouraged more people in China to get tested. But Jiang, who is living with AIDS in Beijing and does not want his full name known, says the stigma of AIDS remains.

He says he has only told other patients and nurses about his condition because the pressure in society is too much.

Thailand is one of the few countries in Asia that has significantly reduced the spread of HIV and AIDS.

The World Health Organization says between 1989 and 1994 the number of new sexually transmitted disease cases among men treated at government clinics, plummeted by more than 90 percent.

Former Cabinet minister Mechai Viravaidya led the condom use promotion. His efforts include opening a restaurant called Cabbages and Condoms that gives diners condoms. But the AIDS activist says the Thai government's commitment was key to containing the disease.

"Firstly, there was political commitment and financial commitment," said Mechai. "All the money spent on HIV prevention or treatment in Thailand, 90 percent came from the government or from within the country. Only 10 percent from the outside. So many countries do not have the political or the financial commitment and expect the rest of the world to save you."

And with much of the region doing well economically, USAID's Baldwin says donors are expecting more Asian countries to take over funding AIDS programs soon.

"So you know, I think the donors are all prioritizing and one of the factors that is always considered is how much money is there within the local economy to be, should there be to contribute," Baldwin said.

In some countries, such as Indonesia, international donors provide 80 percent or more of the AIDS funding. Baldwin says that can not continue indefinitely.

You May Like

Video Protests Continue in Ferguson, Spread to Other US Cities

Missouri officials say deployment of more than 2,000 National Guard soldiers helps curb second night of rampant arson and looting in Midwestern town More

Video Ebola, Crackdown on Illegals Hit Business in Guangzhou

Chinese city has largest community of Africans in Asia More

Video Legendary Lebanese Actress, Singer Sabah Dies at 87

Music and film diva, affectionately called 'Sabbouha' by millions of her fans, performed at Carnegie Hall in New York, Royal Albert Hall in London, Olympia in Paris, Sydney Opera House in Sydney More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid