Youth in East Asia, Pacific ‘Woefully Unprepared’ for HIV/AIDS, UNICEF Survey Finds
Young people in the Pacific and East Asia are "woefully unprepared" to handle HIV/AIDS, a survey of 10,000 youth ages nine to 17 conducted by UNICEF shows, Reuters/Contra Costa Times reports. The survey, presented in Beijing at the Fifth Ministerial Consultation in East Asia and the Pacific, titled "Shaping the Future for Children," polled children in 17 Asia-Pacific countries and found an "alarming ignorance" about HIV/AIDS. UNICEF said that the survey was a representative sample of 300 million children in the region and indicated that 33 million youth "lacked basic knowledge about the disease." The survey found that 60% of 9- to 13-year-olds and 25% of the 14-to-17 age group knew "absolutely nothing" about, or "only the name" of HIV/AIDS (Reuters/Contra Costa Times, 5/14). In addition, while 68% of the older age group knew that unprotected sex was a method of contracting HIV, only 41% knew about condoms. UNICEF Regional Director Mehr Khan said, "The results of this survey should serve as a wake up call to the governments and societies in this region on how much more needs to be done to educate young people, especially about [HIV/AIDS]." He added, "AIDS knows no borders and no country can consider itself immune. If this region is to avoid the fate of sub-Saharan Africa, where the spread of the epidemic has been truly catastrophic, we need decisive and urgent action." Countries with the "greatest ignorance" of HIV/AIDS among young people were East Timor, Laos, Indonesia and the Philippines, Mongolia, China and South Korea. More than 2.4 million people are HIV-positive in the East Asian region (Agence France-Presse, 5/14).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.