Asia’s Tourism Industry Must be More Open about AIDS, Experts Say
Tourists are "most susceptible" to the AIDS epidemic and have the potential to "accelerate" it in the countries they visit, thus the Asian tourism industry must be educated about the disease so that "it can deal with the issue in a positive manner," the Malaysian New Straits Times reports. At the 50th Pacific Asia Travel Association conference, UNAIDS program and external relations adviser Steve Krauss explained that "mobility, tourism, unprotected sex and active sexual networking patterns fuel the HIV spread in Asia." Since 1984, tourist visits to commercial sex workers have been the biggest method of HIV transmission in parts of the continent. "In Asia, the number one mode of transmission is women having unprotected sex with their husbands and later passing it to their unborn children. The culture in Asia is such that women cannot negotiate safe sex with their partners, therefore the male sexual behavior fuels the epidemic through commercial sex when they travel," Krauss said (New Straits Times, 4/11). "Suppression, incarceration and an enforcement approach to injected drug use and commercial sex does not solve the problem ... young people who work in the sex industry need access to education, care and support," he added. Thailand Business Coalition on AIDS Chair Bill Black said that Thailand's safer sex campaign and government initiatives had addressed the issue without decreasing tourist arrivals (Agence France-Presse, 4/10). At the conference, the coalition presented four recommendations for the travel industry, including the suggestion that national tourist organizations like hotels and tour agencies be knowledgeable about local AIDS situations and communicate this information to employees and travelers (New Straits Times, 4/11).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.