UN Calls for Acceleration of HIV Treatment in Asia-Pacific Nations

Published: February 6, 2012

The United Nations is praising Asia Pacific countries for their response to the HIV/Aids epidemic, but says there are still legal and social barriers that significantly set back eradication efforts.

Monday, The U.N. Economic and Social Commission for the Asia Pacific opened a three-day meeting lauding impressive gains in recent years in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Noeleen Heyzer, the executive secretary of U.N. ESCAP, told officials and activists from 34 Asia Pacific countries that more people than ever had access to HIV treatment. She says new HIV infections are down 20 percent since 2001 and she is expecting to meet a goal to begin to halt and reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS 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,” Heyzer said.

However, Heyzer notes the gains are uneven and there are still gaps in the goal of universal access to HIV treatment.

She says the HIV epidemic is outpacing the response.  “There are still almost two new infections for every person who starts treatment. These new infections remain concentrated among key population of higher risk: People who buy and sell sex, people who inject drugs, men who have sex with men and trans-gender people,” Heyzer stated.

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