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

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    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.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora