Delegates Meet in Australia to Discuss HIV/AIDS Impact on Asia, Pacific Region
Politicians, scientists and community advocates from more than 40 countries convened today in Melbourne, Australia, to officially open the 6th International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific, the Associated Press reports. The conference, with the theme "Breaking Down the Barriers," aims to reduce stigmatization of and discrimination against those with HIV/AIDS, as well as to reduce impediments to effective prevention efforts and increase access to treatment and support services. "Health is on nobody's political agenda ... and we need to accept that we can't push certain issues under the carpet just because it's uncomfortable to talk about," Shabana Azmi, an Indian actress and member of that nation's upper house of parliament, said.
Asia Poised for Outbreak
The conference, which will run through Oct. 10, opens at a "critical time" in the course of the Asian/Pacific HIV epidemic, when about 6.4 million people in the region have HIV, second only to sub-Saharan Africa (Tinkler, Associated Press, 10/5). Yesterday, Monitoring the AIDS Pandemic Network, a group of international experts affiliated with UNAIDS, released a report stating that HIV in Asia is "poised to break out of high-risk groups, particularly through prostitution" (Rosenthal, New York Times, 10/5). However, the report, titled "The Status and Trends of the HIV/AIDS Epidemic in Asia and the Pacific," states that there is hope of containing the epidemic. "We see a window of opportunity. The spread of HIV is not inevitable. It is imperative that countries not waste time but act now," Karen Stanecki, MAP chair, said (Brown, Washington Post, 10/5). For full coverage of the MAP report, please see yesterday's Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report.