Voice of America News (02.06.12) - Tuesday, February 07, 2012
Monday's opening of a three-day UN Economic and Social
Commission for the Asia Pacific (UNESCAP) meeting in Bangkok
began with praise for the region's impressive gains in
tackling HIV/AIDS in recent years.
Asia-Pacific has about 15 percent of the world's total
HIV/AIDS caseload, with roughly 6 million people infected.
Officials and activists from 34 countries in the region heard
that new HIV infections are down 20 percent since 2001.
Noeleen Heyzer, executive secretary of UNESCAP, said she
expects the region will meet its goal of halting and reversing
the virus' spread by 2015.
"Countries such as Cambodia, India, Myanmar, and Thailand have
successfully reduced their HIV infection rates with intensive,
wide-reaching preventive programs, particularly among people
who buy and sell sex," said Heyzer. But, "There are still
almost two new infections for every person who starts
treatment. These new infections remain concentrated among key
populations of higher risk: People who buy and sell sex,
people who inject drugs, men who have sex with men, and
According to UN officials, 90 percent of Asia-Pacific
countries still have HIV treatment barriers. These include
laws that criminalize injection drug users and sex workers,
making it difficult for such marginalized groups to seek
Furthermore, in light of declining HIV/AIDS contributions from
international donors, Asia-Pacific countries must prioritize
paying for much of their own disease-related programming, said
Heyzer. She cited China, Malaysia, Pakistan, Samoa, and
Thailand for leading the way in supporting HIV/AIDS programs