Asian Countries Need to Strengthen Efforts to Prevent HIV Outbreak, Conference Says
August 23, 2007
Today at the close of the 8th International Congress of AIDS in Asia and the Pacific, participants said regional governments must address the underlying causes of the epidemic's spread in order to effectively combat it.
Approximately 5.4 million people in the region are infected with HIV, but that figure could spike if governments do not promote voluntary HIV testing, develop prevention programs, and empower at-risk groups. "In the Asia-Pacific region, we are at a high risk for a massive outbreak of HIV," said Dr. Samlee Plianbanchang, the World Health Organization's Southeast Asia director.
The closing declaration of the conference, which brought 2,500 government officials, AIDS activists and health experts to Colombo, Sri Lanka, outlined key ways of tackling the spread of HIV in the world's most populous region.
Governments with low HIV prevalence should remain vigilant. They also need to develop programs for prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission; promote sex education; implement condom distribution campaigns; end child marriage and violence against women; and treat drug abuse as a public health issue rather than a criminal one, it said.
To combat the epidemic, governments should fight poverty, gender inequality, and stigmatization against the groups most vulnerable to HIV, the declaration said.
08.23.2007; Ravi Nessman
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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.