News / Health

UN: Asia Pacific AIDS Epidemic at Pivotal Stage

HIV-positive Arun, 3, left, HIV positive-Gopika, 2, center, and reportedly HIV-positive Subiksha, 4 months old, lie at the Community Health Education Society orphanage in Chennai, India. (file photo)HIV-positive Arun, 3, left, HIV positive-Gopika, 2, center, and reportedly HIV-positive Subiksha, 4 months old, lie at the Community Health Education Society orphanage in Chennai, India. (file photo)
x
HIV-positive Arun, 3, left, HIV positive-Gopika, 2, center, and reportedly HIV-positive Subiksha, 4 months old, lie at the Community Health Education Society orphanage in Chennai, India. (file photo)
HIV-positive Arun, 3, left, HIV positive-Gopika, 2, center, and reportedly HIV-positive Subiksha, 4 months old, lie at the Community Health Education Society orphanage in Chennai, India. (file photo)
Ron Corben
A new UN report warns the HIV epidemic in Asia and the Pacific is at a pivotal juncture with little progress in reducing new infections. AIDS researchers and activists are calling for more political will by governments to address related issues.

The report, launched by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, says 4.9 million people are living with virus that leads to AIDS across the Asia and Pacific region, largely centered on India, China and Indonesia.

The report, released to coincide with the 11th International Congress on Aids in Asia and Pacific says the rate of new infections has been reduced by more than 25 percent since 2001.

India, Burma, Nepal, Papua New Guinea and Thailand have all reported reductions of new HIV infections by more than 50 percent during the past decade. But evidence is emerging of new HIV infections increasing sharply in Indonesia, Pakistan and the Philippines.  

Annual new HIV infection rates in the Asia-Pacific region have remained steady at 350,000 a year since 2008.

UNAIDS in the Asia and Pacific Director Steve Kraus says recent gains to reduce infections have stagnated, undermining UN goals of achieving zero new infections and deaths from the virus.  

"We have to innovate," Kraus said. "We have not seen a decline in new infections in our region in the last five years. We need to challenge the status quo because laws, policies and practices too often are barriers. Access to treatment is not available and prevention programs have not been scaled up."

The number of people in the region accessing medication to keep the virus in check, or antiretroviral treatment, has risen to 1.25 million, just more 50 percent of those infected.

AIDS related deaths have also declined by 18 percent since 2005, to an estimated 270,000 in 2012.

The report says the fastest growing epidemics are among men who have sex with men with 27 million men at risk to the virus. While in Indonesia, Pakistan and the Philippines, rising rates of new infections are linked to injecting drug use populations.

Malu Marin, regional director of the non-government organization Seven Sisters, says issues of discrimination and AIDS-related deaths point to little progress made by policy makers.

"We have made gains in changing risky behaviors that increase vulnerabilities to HIV infection, but we have not made gains in changing the behaviors of policy makers, political leaders and state actors," Marin said. "Evidence should be our foundation, but 30 years later HIV is still viewed from the lens of dogmatic morality.  We are getting to zero change because of zero access to funding, zero legal reforms and zero political will."

Fijian President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau says more needs to be done toward reducing stigma and discrimination.  

"Programs addressing HIV related stigma and discrimination in the work place, schools and trade based organizations were also reported as contributing to progress towards this target in several countries, though such programs are rarely implemented at a large enough scale," Nailatikau said.

UN officials see the need for law reforms in areas such as same sex relationships, criminalization of sex workers and restrictions on movement of people based on their HIV status.

You May Like

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month 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.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid