Southeast Asia HIV Prevention Program Lacking Political Commitment, WHO Adviser Says
Southeast Asia's HIV prevention program has become ineffective because of a lack of political commitment in addressing the epidemic across the region, Thierry Mertens, special adviser to the WHO Regional Office for Southeast Asia, said Tuesday at a regional meeting, the Bangkok Post reports. Mertens said poor health care services and inadequate human resources also are hindering efforts to control the spread of HIV and other infectious diseases, including tuberculosis and hepatitis C, in the region. In addition, Mertens said that Southeast Asian countries are at high risk of an HIV/AIDS epidemic in part because of a lack of education about condom use and the high prevalence of sexually transmitted infections in the region. "The Southeast Asia region is not an exception to the documented global low coverage in prevention services," Mertens said, adding, "Despite effective interventions such as condom use, the coverage of these prevention interventions across the region has been poor." A 2005 WHO report found that there are about 6.7 million people living with HIV/AIDS in the Southeast Asian region. This year's figures will be released on World Aids Day on Dec. 1, the Post reports (Bangkok Post, 11/1).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.