Fight Against AIDS in Asia Can Be Won But Only With ‘Sustained, Effective’ Response, Opinion Piece Says
Asia can "win the fight against AIDS" but only if government leaders in the region "mount a sustained and effective response using the tools that we know work," Anand Panyarachun, former prime minister of Thailand and chair of the Asia-Pacific Leadership Forum Steering Committee, and Peter Piot, executive director of UNAIDS, write in an opinion piece in Thailand's Nation. Currently, more than seven million HIV-positive people live in Asia, and the number could rise to more than 18 million by 2010 if the epidemic is "left unchecked," Panyarachun and Piot say. Therefore, fighting AIDS should be a "major priority" for governments in Asia, but many leaders in the region "have yet to respond to AIDS with the seriousness it demands," the authors say. A "crucial first step" in building an effective response to AIDS is gaining "strong commitment" from political leaders because those commitments "transfor[m] a society's attitudes and actions" and mobilize new partners from diverse communities, the authors write. Panyarachun and Piot conclude, "The region's governments have now to join this global movement. There is no more time to waste. AIDS is a problem with a solution. The time to act is now" (Panyarachun/Piot, Nation, 10/16).
A webcast of the Asia Society's "AIDS in Asia: Leadership Initiatives in India" conference is available online. The society on Tuesday launched "AIDS in Asia," a new initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, with a simultaneous discussion between leaders in India and New York to discuss efforts in the fight against HIV/AIDS, using India as an example.