HIV/AIDS Conference Delegates Call for More Regional Support To Fight Spread of the Virus
Participants on Monday at an international parliamentary conference on HIV prevention in Eastern Europe and Central Asia in the Kyrgyzstan capital, Bishkek, called for more commitment and leadership to reduce the spread of HIV in the region, IRIN News reports. Participants at the conference -- which is supported by the Central Asia AIDS Control Project and Transatlantic Partners Against AIDS -- include lawmakers and health ministry representatives from Central Asian countries, Ukraine, Russia, international agencies and nongovernmental organizations. According to IRIN News, the number of reported HIV cases in Central Asian countries increased from about 500 in 2000 to more than 12,000 in 2004. However, CDC estimates that there are about 90,000 HIV-positive people in the region. The epidemic in the region is concentrated among young people and is fueled primarily by injection drug use, IRIN News reports. To curb the spread of HIV "[t]here needs to be improved legislation aimed at excluding the cases of stigma and discrimination (of those living with HIV)," Tilek Meimanaliev, executive director of CAAP, said, adding that "this concerns vulnerable groups, like inject[ion] drug users, sex workers and labor migrants, whose numbers have considerably increased (in the region) over the past decade." Erkinbek Alymbekov, deputy speaker of the Kyrgyz parliament, said, "No country in the world is protected against the HIV and AIDS epidemic; therefore, the fight against this dreadful disease should be conducted on a regional level." He added, "Lawmakers in the region have the most important role in terms of legislative efforts on the adoption and implementation of effective measures to fight the HIV and AIDS epidemic." Conference organizers in a statement said that the spread of HIV over the next 10 years would stall economic growth by about 20% in Uzbekistan and 10% in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan (IRIN News, 9/25).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.