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)
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid