December 7, 2011
"A report on the HIV epidemic in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) shows that while the overall HIV prevalence in the region is still low, the rise in new infections since 2001 has put the MENA region among the top two regions in the world with the fastest growing HIV epidemic," UNAIDS reports (12/4). The regional report was released Monday in Cairo, Egypt, under the auspices of the League of Arab States, according to the Egypt Independent (Helmy, 12/6). "The report outlines many recommendations on how to strengthen the AIDS response in the MENA region," according to UNAIDS, including "review of laws and policies that hinder access to HIV prevention and treatments services, to invest smartly using an evidence-informed and human rights based approach, and the importance of strong political leadership" (12/4).
In related news, Agence France-Presse examines HIV/AIDS in the MENA region, saying that stigma and shame often prevent people from seeking testing or treatment, but some countries, including Egypt and Lebanon, "have begun to publicize the problem" through public awareness campaigns (Yazbeck, 12/7).