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Spotlight Series: HIV Stigma and Discrimination
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International News

HIV Stable in Asia but Rising Among Women, Gay Men

November 30, 2009

The HIV/AIDS epidemic in Asia is generally stabilizing, though the infection rate among women and gay men is rising in some nations, according to the UN's "2009 AIDS Epidemic Update." In the region, women accounted for 35 percent of people living with HIV last year, up from 19 percent in 2000.

"In particular countries, the growth in HIV infections among women has been especially striking," noted the report. In India, women comprised 39 percent of those infected in 2007, and the infection rate also rose sharply in China, the UN reported.

In many countries, male and female sex workers and their clients remain at high risk for HIV/AIDS, and condom use is low despite awareness campaigns, the UN said. In addition, "many low-risk women may be at considerable risk of HIV infection due to the high-risk sexual and drug-using behaviors of their male partners."

Men who have sex with men (MSM) in Asia have nearly a one in five chance of becoming HIV-infected. High prevalence among MSM has been found in Myanmar (29.3 percent), Bangkok (30.7 percent), Chongqing, China (12.5 percent), southern India (7.6-18.1 percent) and Indonesia (5.2 percent).

While adult HIV prevalence is below 1 percent everywhere in Asia except Thailand, the region also has a low diagnosis rate due in part to discrimination and cultural and legal barriers, the report said. About two-thirds of Chinese with HIV have not sought treatment because of fear, ignorance and discrimination, said Michel Sidibe, executive director of UNAIDS.

"People are hiding themselves," Sidibe said, noting "homophobic laws" in some nations prevent candid HIV awareness among MSM. The epidemic is "steadily expanding into lower-risk populations through transmission to the sexual partners of those most at risk," the report said.

Back to other news for November 2009

Adapted from:
Deutsche Presse-Agentur

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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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