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UNICEF Reports Increase in HIV/AIDS, Child Sex Exploitation in Asia-Pacific Region
UNICEF yesterday at the Sixth East Asia and Pacific Ministerial Consultation on Children in Bali, Indonesia, told approximately 250 delegates from 25 countries that the HIV/AIDS epidemic, child trafficking and sexual exploitation are escalating in the Asia-Pacific region, Agence-France Presse reports (Agence-France Presse, 5/7). UNICEF Regional Director Mehr Khan said that the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Asia has "exceeded UNICEF's worst projections," adding that the situation is similar in terms of epidemic growth and government response to that of some African nations 12 years ago and is "indeed alarming." Approximately 2.5 million people in the region are HIV-positive, with half of the cases among people under age 25; injection drug use and unprotected sex are responsible for the majority of HIV cases, according to UNICEF. Young people in the region are "particularly vulnerable" to HIV because there is little education about safe sex (UNICEF release, 5/7). In addition, a document adopted at the conference said that women and children in the region are being trafficked for sexual exploitation in "increasingly large numbers," according to Agence-France Presse. The document added that these children "are frequently subjected to physical and sexual violence and psychological trauma, and are highly vulnerable to HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases" (Agence-France Presse, 5/7).
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