Australia To Provide Indonesia With $40M Million To Fight HIV/AIDS
Australia will allocate $40 million in 2008 to help fight the spread of HIV/AIDS in Indonesia, Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith announced on Thursday, the AAP/Australian reports. "I am pleased to announce today that in 2008, Australia will commence a new program with Indonesia to give people with HIV, or at risk of contracting HIV, better access to essential treatment and prevention," Smith said. Smith made the announcement after meeting with Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda in Perth, Australia (AAP/Australian, 2/7).
The funding will go toward an HIV/AIDS program that aims to increase access to medicines and treatment among marginalized groups living with HIV/AIDS, AHN Media reports. According to the Indonesian Ministry of Health, the HIV situation in Indonesia is one of the fastest spreading in Asia. About 170,000 people are living with HIV/AIDS out of the country's 231.6 million residents. About 29,000 of those living with the disease are women. Most HIV cases occur among injection drugs users and commercial sex workers, followed by men who have sex with men, AHN Media reports. A 2005 survey found that 40% of IDUs in Jakarta tested positive for HIV. The survey also found that about 25% of IDUs in Bandung, Jakarta and Medan said they had had unprotected sex during the past year (Morales, AHN Media, 2/7).
U.N. Envoy Calls for Increased Efforts on HIV/AIDS in Indonesia
In related news, Nafis Sadik, United Nations Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Asia and the Pacific, on Friday called on Indonesia to scale up its HIV/AIDS prevention efforts while rates of the disease are still low among the general population, Reuters reports. "The window of opportunity is now open to keep the epidemic at low levels," Sadik said during a five-day visit to the country. "I am happy with the progress, but Indonesia needs to do more," Sadik said, adding, "Prevention has to be equal priority if not more priority in the program. Unless you prevent it, you are not going to get rid of HIV." Indonesia's National AIDS Commission estimates that the country will have one million cases by 2015 if efforts are not strengthened. Sadik said the country should bolster its existing programs to promote behavior change and condom use. However, religious groups have strongly criticized the campaigns, saying they promote promiscuity, according to the commission (Reuters, 2/8).