Asia at Critical Stage of AIDS Battle as Infections Top Eight Million: UN
November 23, 2004
Asia's booming sex trade has fueled an HIV/AIDS crisis with the region now reporting more than 8 million people living with the disease, UNAIDS and the World Health Organization said today in their annual AIDS epidemic report (also available in PDF). In the past two years, the number of HIV-infected Asians has increased by 1 million, bringing the regional total to 8.2 million. Around 5.1 million of those live in India, while China has recorded some 220,000 since 2002 to bring the total to 840,000.Adapted from:
While the report noted alarming increases in HIV rates among IV drug users in Asia, it said the sex industry remains the dominant transmission route. "Most new infections in Asia occur when men buy sex, and large numbers of men do so," it said, noting that up to 10 percent of Asian men pay for sex. Many sex workers continue to work without condoms because some clients will pay a higher price for unprotected sex, said the report. Less than one in five sex workers in Jakarta massage parlors report using condoms. UNICEF Regional AIDS Advisor Wing-Sie Cheng said men who pay for sex often infect their wives or girlfriends with HIV.
In many Asian countries, especially Indonesia, Nepal, Vietnam, and parts of China, IV drug use is the second-largest contributor in the spread of HIV/AIDS, said the report. It recommended that more governments adopt drug treatment and needle-exchange programs to slow the epidemic.
The report said the many Asian nations can still avoid potential epidemics but they must act quickly. Bangladesh, East Timor, Laos, Pakistan, and the Philippines all have low HIV prevalence rates and should adopt prevention programs like those used in Thailand to stave off an epidemic, the report said. Thailand's widely praised efforts include promoting condom use, which has helped reduce new annual infections from a high of 143,000 in 1991 to 19,000 last year.
Agence France Presse
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.