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reproductive health > newsfile > asia faces aids epidemic

Asia faces AIDS Epidemic

Posted: 12 Oct 2001

After years of assuming that they were safely on the sidelines of the global AIDS epidemic, many Asian countries now find themselves facing serious health crises and are often poorly prepared to respond, according to a UNAIDS survey reported in the New York Times.

"A number of countries-for example, China, Indonesia and Vietnam-are now experiencing explosive epidemics in different population groups," says the report, released on October 5 (2001) by Monitoring the AIDS Pandemic Network, an international panel of experts affiliated with Unaids, the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS. "Two years ago, only Thailand, Myanmar and Cambodia reported substantial nationwide epidemics,' the study says. 'In the last two years, that has changed dramatically."

Among the more startling findings of the report: more startling findings of the report:

  • In a Chinese province, infection rates for sex workers have increased, from 0 to more than 10 percent in recent years.

  • In Katmandu, Nepal, more than half of intravenous drug users are infected.

  • In an Iranian prison, the rate is 63 percent.

  • In Jakarta, Indonesia, 18 percent of women who work in massage parlors and 40 percent of intravenous drug users at treatment centers are infected.

"In some countries where there was hardly any HIV two years ago, it is clearly there now," Dr. Peter Piot, UNAIDS executive director, said. "While some people have wanted to say that Asia is not vulnerable to HIV, this report contradicts that."

Many Asian governments, he added, had ignored the emerging problem, often making it worse. Not a single Asian head of state attended the United Nations special conference on the disease in the summer, he said, although more than 40 other world leaders attended.

Source: New York Times, IPPF, October 2001

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