UN Officials Urge South Asian Leaders to Take Action Against AIDS
February 4, 2003
UN officials Tuesday urged leaders of South Asian nations to take immediate action against AIDS. The region is home to 4.2 million people with the disease, and a growing number are contracting HIV.
"Leaders must break the silence that denies the existence of AIDS. Leadership is needed to combat the disease in the region," said UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy at the conference on AIDS in South Asia.
Health officials from eight South Asian countries and the UN were in Nepal's capital, Katmandu, for the two-day conference on the disease. "Actions must be taken now to prevent catastrophe later," said Peter Piot, executive director of UNAIDS.
The UN bodies also want the governments in the region to address issues fueling the epidemic, expand prevention and care, and impose policies so that children who are vulnerable to HIV are given information and services to prevent infection. Health officials from the region said a lack of education and cross-border trafficking in women and children are the main reasons for the spread of the disease. About 5,000 Nepalese women work as prostitutes in neighboring India, and many come home with AIDS.
Delegates at the conference also reviewed previous commitments to combat the spread of AIDS and planned new, fast strategies to fight the disease.
Health officials from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka took part in the forum, which started Monday.
02.04.03; Binaj Gurubacharya
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.