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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update

Asia Health Experts to Step Up Anti-AIDS Program for Sex


Agence France Presse (08.21.03) - Thursday, August 21, 2003

At the end of a four-day meeting in the Laotian capital Vientiane, Asian health experts agreed to expand the "102 percent condom use program." The program, promoted across the region by the World Health Organization, involves distributing condoms to sex workers, teaching them about safe sex, and enlisting the support of the police.

"There are few success stories in AIDS. This is one of them," said Dr. Bernard Fabre-Teste, head of the HIV and sexually transmitted infections unit at WHO's Western Pacific Regional Office in Manila. Pilot programs begun in several countries over the last few years have boosted condom use and reduced new HIV infections, according to WHO.

Prostitution is a major force driving the AIDS epidemic in Asia. "The most effective and responsible public health measures against HIV/AIDS in Asia need to focus on high-risk behaviors, which is commercial sex and injecting drug use," said Fabre- Teste.

WHO pointed out that the implementation of the "100 percent condom use program" has led to more than an 80 percent decline in new HIV infections in Thailand and Cambodia. The UN agency said the continuation of the program was necessary to control the spread of the virus in Myanmar, a potential AIDS tinderbox with relatively high HIV rates and a thriving sex trade.

Conference participants stressed that political and financial support are essential for the success of the program. "There has been good progress but we still have many hurdles to cross to expand the program," said Fabre-Teste.


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