Asia Must Reform Policies To Tackle HIV Among ‘Marginalized’ Populations, Experts Say
Asian countries need to reform laws to tackle the HIV/AIDS pandemic among "marginalized" populations, including commercial sex workers and injection drug users, experts at a meeting in Pattaya, Thailand, said, VOA News reports (Corben, VOA News, 2/16). Delegates from 22 countries in the Asia Pacific region attended the three-day meeting in Pattaya, aimed at creating regional plans for universal access to HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention information (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/15). Michel Sidibe, UNAIDS director of country and regional support, said reform is crucial in helping to minimize discrimination against high-risk groups, which include sex workers, injection drug users and men who have sex with men. Don Baxter, executive director for the Australian Federation of AIDS Organizations, said political leaders in Asia often find it difficult to discuss issues such as sexuality and drug use, and he urged governments to promote community and civil society participation in HIV-prevention efforts. At the meeting, experts also discussed ways to reduce the cost of antiretroviral drugs in Asia (VOA News, 2/16).
Political Will, Public Engagement Needed To Reach Vulnerable Groups, Commentary Says
Vulnerable people, such as injection drug users, still are "on the outer edge of society" and have limited access to HIV prevention, treatment and support services, a Thai News Service commentary says. It will take political will, as well as commitment from individuals and advocates, to ensure that prevention efforts -- including education, condom distribution, sexual education, and voluntary testing and counseling -- reach all groups of people, according to the commentary. "Vigilant efforts to prevent new HIV infections are the most vital contributions responsible individuals, societies and governments can make to ensure the human rights of those at risk, as well as those living with HIV, are upheld," the commentary concludes (Thai News Service, 2/20).