Asia Falling Short In HIV Treatment
According to Murray Proctor, Australia’s Ambassador on HIV/AIDS, attending a regional conference on universal access to treatment for AIDS, said Asia is falling short on HIV/AIDS treatment with almost 400,000 new cases reported each year.
The 200 Asia-Pacific region delegates preparing for a United Nations General Assembly meeting to be held in New York in June, were informed the availability and price of vital anti-retroviral medications remained a challenge for the region.
There are 5 million people living with HIV across Asia, UNAIDS estimates, with little having changed since five years earlier. There has been a 20% fall from are 450,000 newly infected HIV cases in 2001, to some 360,000 in 2009.
New infections rates in India, Nepal and Thailand have witnessed a 25% fall in the eight years to 2009, with a 25% rise in new HIV infections in Bangladesh and the Philippines during the same period.
According to Proctor, there should be a greater focus on preventing the virus from spreading, as prevention has not been as good as treatment, though we have achieved major success in the reduction of HIV positive mothers transmitting the virus to their children.
A 2009 UNAIDS report in Asia warned men having sex with men was one group that would face the greatest threat of contracting HIV in the near term.
Australia has stepped up financial support to the UN Global Fund for treating AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis by 50% to $210 million last year, including supporting international efforts for reducing legal impediments to an effective public health response to HIV.
These include calls for reforming laws governing sex workers, men having sex with men and promoting harm reduction programmes among drug users who inject.
Currently, Australia is working with the Vietnamese government for changing the way injecting drug users are treated, along with measures for dealing with injecting drug use in prisons in Indonesia.
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