Delegates at Asia-Pacific Meeting Call for Increased Efforts To Fight HIV/AIDS in Region
Health officials and experts from countries in the Asia-Pacific region with a low prevalence of HIV/AIDS Thursday in Manila, Philippines, pledged to intensify national efforts to curb the spread of the disease, the Independent Online reports. The delegates at the three-day meeting also said that there is a need for governments, civil society groups and international development partners to improve efforts to deliver interventions to at-risk populations.
According to the Independent Online, the delegates said that access and availability of antiretroviral drugs should be a main component of HIV/AIDS efforts in every country and that funding outside of national budgets must be mobilized. They also called on political leaders to increase allocation of resources to fight HIV/AIDS.
In a joint statement, the delegates said they are committed to "an enhanced and effective response to HIV in Asia and the Pacific, which ensures equal access to services for all persons regardless of their age, sexual orientation or gender." The statement also said, "Countries must clearly identify their priorities and effectively allocate resources if they expect to maintain a financially sustainable response to the HIV epidemics in the region."
Fiji Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Ratu Epeli Nailatikau said that although the number of HIV/AIDS cases among the countries represented at the meeting is low, the disease could turn into a "full-blown epidemic" if not addressed.
"Since the first cases of HIV surfaced in the late 1970s and early '80s, there has been no cure for the HIV pandemic," Nailatikau said, adding, "It tells us that our efforts must go on, further and further."
The 11 countries attending the meeting were Bangladesh, Bhutan, Fiji, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and East Timor (Independent Online, 8/28).