HIV/AIDS Gains Ground in Some Asian Countries, Recedes in Others
May 31, 2006
India has eclipsed South Africa as home to the most people infected with HIV/AIDS in 2005, a UNAIDS report released yesterday found. Last year, India had an estimated 5.7 million infections, compared with South Africa's 5.5 million. However, the country of 1.02 billion people has a low infection rate of 0.9 percent among adults, and prevalence rates have been declining in four Indian states.
At the end of 2005, the report estimated that some 8.3 million people in the Asia-Pacific region were living with HIV/AIDS, the second-highest regional number of cases after sub-Saharan Africa. Though prevalence has been steadily slowing in Cambodia and Thailand, it is increasing in countries like China, Vietnam, and Indonesia, and there are indications of outbreaks in Bangladesh and Pakistan.
Two countries singled out by the report as having worrying epidemics include Cambodia -- though it has managed to lower its HIV prevalence from higher levels in the late 1990s -- and Myanmar. "The HIV epidemics remain relatively limited in Bangladesh, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Pakistan, although each of those countries risks a more serious epidemic if prevention methods are not improved," said the report.
The easternmost Papua province of Indonesia has "a serious epidemic" that has spread beyond sex workers and their clients, the report found. The epidemic in Papua New Guinea, which shares an island north of Australia with Papua, is "growing at an alarming rate," with HIV diagnoses increasing by about 30 percent every year since 1997.
Factors driving the spread of HIV/AIDS in Asia include unprotected sex, IV drug use, and an intersection of the two. Almost one in four IV drug users in Karachi, Pakistan, tested HIV-positive in 2004, while some sex worker populations in the Tamil Nadu state in southern India have been found to have infection rates of 50 percent. In China, the report said approximately 650,000 people have HIV, of whom 44 percent are IV drug users.
05.31.06; Aaron Clark
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.