Central Asian Countries, International Organizations Agree to Joint Project To Fight HIV/AIDS in Region
Four Central Asian countries and several international organizations on Monday signed an agreement to create a $25 million joint project to fight HIV/AIDS in the region, the AP/Las Vegas Sun reports. The agreement establishes a joint project between the former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan and the World Bank, UNAIDS and the United Kingdom's Department for International Development. The World Bank is expected to contribute $20 million -- or 80% -- of the project funding. Under the agreement, the countries will create and follow a strategy to combat HIV/AIDS and establish a regional AIDS fund (Bukharbayeva, AP/Las Vegas Sun, 6/28). According to Dennis De Tray, World Bank country director for Central Asia, the HIV infection rate in Central Asia has surpassed that of sub-Saharan Africa, AFP/Yahoo! News reports. "Now is the time for the Central Asian countries to come together to fight HIV/AIDS -- this is not an issue of whether Central Asia fights against AIDS but when," he said. According to De Tray, the number of registered HIV cases in formerly Soviet Central Asia has grown from approximately 500 new cases in 2000 to more than 8,000 this year, but he estimates the actual number of new cases may be as high as 90,000 and could reach 1.5 million by 2006 (AFP/Yahoo! News, 6/29). Within the next 20 years, the region could face a "serious HIV/AIDS crisis," the AP/Sun reports. "Immediate action is essential if we are to prevent and control [HIV's] spread and avoid the huge costs an epidemic would bring," De Tray said. The disease is driven by the growing injection drug use throughout the region and increased commerical sex work, according to the AP/Sun (AP/Las Vegas Sun, 6/29).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.