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Women and AIDS in south and South-East Asia: the challenge and the response.
Mboi N
June 30, 1997
World Health Stat Q. 1996;49(2):94-105. Unique Identifier : AIDSLINE

South and South-East Asia are at the centre of the most aggressive advances of the AIDS epidemic today. The challenge this presents to the region is clear. While reported absolute numbers still lag behind the African region (11,160,900 in Africa; 3,081,235 in Asia) knowledgeable observers agree that the place of infection and potential devastation in this region exceed what we have seen in Africa. Those concerned with the welfare of the people of Asia, therefore, must make serious efforts to break the chain of HIV transmission as quickly and effectively as possible and identify and care for the infected. Women are entitled to protection by rights the same as men. However, for anatomical reasons, women are more vulnerable than men to infection by HIV. In addition, throughout the Asian region, women's "natural" vulnerability is vastly magnified by poverty and generally low levels of education and personal autonomy which make it difficult for them to gain access to information and appropriate services. Because of women's multiple roles in the epidemic-potential "infectee", care-giver, transmitter of infection-if we are to be successful in halting the spread of HIV/AIDS we must give particular attention to reaching, working with, and serving women. Meeting this challenge requires involvement of men as well as women, individuals and institutions, governments and NGOs, in four broad areas of activity: (i) HIV/AIDS education and information; (ii) basic education and economic activity to reduce gender inequities; iii) improvements in policy and social environments; and (iv) provision of health and other services. Lack of commitment, skill, or persistence in meeting the challenge will cost lives across Asia.

*Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome/EPIDEMIOLOGY