Asia-Pacific Nations Urged to Tackle Mounting AIDS Crisis
February 27, 2003
Asia-Pacific nations must tackle the region's mounting AIDS crisis promptly if they are to prevent the problem from escalating into the pandemic proportions of Africa, a leading UN official said Wednesday.Adapted from:
Speaking at the Foreign Correspondents Club in Hong Kong, Kim Hak Su, executive secretary of the 61-member UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, urged governments not to "repeat the African mistake." "If Africa had controlled HIV/AIDS, it would not be in this situation. Twenty percent of the people [in Africa] are sick from HIV/AIDS and there are growing numbers of orphans," he said.
HIV's first Asian appearance was in Thailand in the 1990s, but it has since spread to other countries, leaving the region at risk of becoming the new global center of the pandemic, Kim said.
He did not give a figure for the total number of people in Asia-Pacific affected by the disease. But some 300,000 people are infected with HIV in Cambodia, and there are an estimated 5 million HIV/AIDS patients in India, the worst affected country in the region. Thailand has about 700,000 people infected with HIV. China has about 1 million HIV/AIDS patients, he said.
Kim said that from the 61-country Asia-Pacific region, only one ministerial-level representative attended a special UN AIDS session in New York in 2001. "That reflected how our political leaders were not paying attention to this HIV/AIDS [problem]," he said.
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.