Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations
Representatives at U.N. Meeting Warn of Possible Africa-Like HIV/AIDS Epidemic in Asia
Asia is at risk of an AIDS epidemic on the scale of Africa's unless preventive measures are taken "while transmission rates are still low," officials at a session of the U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific said yesterday. Reuters/Contra Costa Times reports that Kathleen Cravero, UNAIDS deputy executive director, said, "There are clear warning signs that the epidemic could escalate in many countries (in Asia) if urgent action is not taken. South Asia is already a hotbed of infection -- the fastest growing epidemic outside sub-Saharan Africa" (Reuters/Contra Costa Times, 4/23). She added that last year, more than 900,000 people in the Asia-Pacific region were infected with HIV and roughly 490,000 died of AIDS-related causes. While these figures are lower than the 3.9 million new HIV infections and 2.4 million deaths in Africa in 2000, Cravero said that infection rates in Africa are "stabilizing," while Asia faces "escalt[ing]" epidemics that in several countries have "spread beyond high risk groups like sex workers and intravenous drug users to the general population" (Pennington, AP/Raleigh News & Observer, 4/23). Kim Hak-Su, ESCAP executive secretary, added, "I think it's important that we not repeat Africa's mistake, and prevent spread of the disease in the early stages" (Reuters/Contra Costa Times, 4/23). To this end, former Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda urged developing countries in Asia and Africa to work together to slow the epidemic. "We must take action to provide treatment and care for people living with HIV/AIDS, by sharing research information," he said (Bangkok Post, 4/24). Cravero suggested that "Asian countries, especially
Thailand, should share their successes with Africa on promoting condom use, while Africa could help Asia reduce the stigma attached to the disease" (Reuters/Contra Costa Times, 4/24).
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