HIV/AIDS Could Reach ‘Epidemic Proportions’ in Several Asian Nations, U.N. Report Says
HIV/AIDS will soon reach "epidemic proportions" in several areas of Asia and the Pacific, according to a report by the U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, Agence France-Presse reports. The report, which will be presented to government ministers at the 58th Commission Session of UN-ESCAP in Bangkok from May 16 to 22, states that although Cambodia, Myanmar and Thailand have been the only countries up until now to have "significant nationwide [HIV/AIDS] epidemics," other nations are witnessing a "dramatic increase" in HIV infections (Agence France-Presse, 5/6). The report notes that India and China have large HIV-positive populations and that China could have as many as 10 million HIV-positive residents by 2010 unless prevention programs are supported more aggressively. The Chinese Health Ministry has stated that the number of HIV infections in the country rose by 67% during the first six months of 2001. Young Asians are "the most vulnerable" to HIV infection, which is mainly transmitted through heterosexual sex and intravenous drug use in Asia, with 50% of new infections occurring among people under age 24. Governments, organizations and private entities must "focus urgent attention to building political commitment and partnerships in the region to combat HIV/AIDS," the report concludes, noting that such programs are currently "poorly funded" (Dow Jones International News, 5/6).
Thai Government to Deport Workers Infected With HIV, TB
In other Asian news, the Thai government plans to deport more than 700 workers originally from Myanmar because they are infected with HIV, tuberculosis or other communicable diseases, Dow Jones International News reports. The Thai government requires foreign workers to undergo medical checkups when their work permits are up for renewal. Dr. Winai Withoonkija, permanent secretary of the Thai Public Health Ministry, said that 737 workers from Myanmar tested positive within the last two months for "various kind[s] of disease," including tuberculosis, syphilis and HIV. "These people will not be allowed to renew their work permits and will be sent back home to prevent spreading diseases" in Thailand, Winai said. He did not indicate when the deportations would occur (Dow Jones International News, 5/4).