HIV/AIDS Cases in Asia Could Reach 10M by 2010, Officials Say
The number of HIV/AIDS cases in Asia could reach 10 million by 2010 -- more than double current estimates -- unless countries take increased action to curb the spread of the disease, health officials said on Friday at the launch of an online database on HIV/AIDS in the Asia-Pacific region, AFP/Google.com reports. The database -- available at aidsdatahub.org -- includes information on HIV/AIDS prevalence, risky behaviors and government responses in various Asian countries and regions within certain countries (AFP/Google.com, 11/28). It was launched by officials from UNICEF, UNAIDS, the World Health Organization and the Asian Development Bank in Manila, the Philippines (Xinhuanet, 11/28).
According to the officials, there could be 500,000 new HIV/AIDS cases annually unless countries take increased action against the disease. In addition, Amala Reddy of UNAIDS said that about 50 million women in the region are at risk of the disease because of the behaviors of their husbands and partners. Reddy added that HIV/AIDS prevalence in Asia likely would reach 3% to 5% at most and is still concentrated among groups such as commercial sex workers, injection drug users and men who have sex with men. In addition, an estimated 75 million men in the region frequent sex workers, who number about 10 million, Reddy said, adding that there are 20 million IDUs and MSM in Asia. ABD Special Advisor Ian Anderson said that HIV/AIDS could have a serious effect on the region because many people living with the disease are in their economically productive years. "Because it is relatively small, this is the time to keep it small," he said, adding, "So we won't have to put the genie back in the bottle later."
In some Asian countries, such men may continue to have sex with their wives and other women, Reddy added (AFP/Google.com, 11/28). WHO Regional Advisor on HIV/AIDS Massimo Ghidinelli said WHO cannot determine a "fully accurate picture" on how MSM are contributing to the spread of HIV/AIDS because of the sensitivity of the issue and government neglect. "It is a new phenomenon, and we have insufficient understandings and studies," Ghidinelli said, adding, "The problem may be much greater than what we have believed." Reddy said that there should be "aggressive promotion of condom usage" to address the issue. She added, "We know the ways. It is only that political leaders have to have the political will to do the right things" (Xinhuanet, 11/28).