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International News

UN Backs Australia's Asia AIDS Fight With Drug Reforms

May 4, 2009

Australia serves as an example of how HIV can be stemmed through harm-reduction approaches, such as the provision of needle-exchange programs, a UN official said recently. The nation is also helping the region by asking Asian nations to retool their anti-drug strategies to better fight HIV/AIDS, including by offering substitution programs to heroin addicts, said Prasada Rao, director of UNAIDS Asia-Pacific.

"Australia is a good model for harm-reduction programs and also for looking at drug laws and revamping them," Rao said. "In fact, quite a few countries in Asia have learnt their harm-reduction strategies in good examples from Australia."

"The story is we need to halt the spread of AIDS," Rao continued. "It's prevention that counts. Of course we have to provide good treatment to people who are infectious and there are 5 million in this region -- so that's a big challenge."

"We don't want to stop [governments in the region from] catching the criminals who are pushing the drugs or whatever, we work very strongly with them," Rao said. "That's a very big, important part of the Australian government policy. But in terms of reducing the spread of HIV, we have to focus on prevention."

Back to other news for May 2009

Adapted from:
Australian Associated Press
05.02.2009; Ron Corben

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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.
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