amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research

Good News, Bad News in UNAIDS Report

For Asia and the Pacific, the 2012 UNAIDS World AIDS Day Report was a patchwork quilt of solid progress in some countries and regression in others. While new infections in South and Southeast Asia fell from 370,000 in 2001 to 280,000 in 2011, in East Asia they were up over the same period from 75,000 to 89,000.

At the country level, the swings were more dramatic. Decreases in HIV incidence of more than 25 percent between 2001 and 2011 in Cambodia, India, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, and Thailand were offset by increases of more than 25 percent in Bangladesh, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka.

In 2011, only one country in the region—Cambodia—reached more than 80 percent coverage of antiretroviral therapy. Compared to the global average of 54 percent coverage, South and Southeast Asia reached just 47 percent and East Asia was worse at 18 percent. Similarly, provision of optimal antiretroviral regimens for prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission was a dismal 18 percent in South and Southeast Asia compared to the global average of 57 percent.

Local epidemics in the region remain largely concentrated among high-risk populations, including men who have sex with men, injecting drug users, and sex workers. However, HIV prevention services for these groups are generally inconsistent and frequently poor.

Laws and policies in some countries have improved since 2010, with China, Fiji, and the Republic of Korea lifting travel restrictions for people with HIV. The report should send a clear signal to policy makers in the region that current levels of commitment need to improve in order to reach those most at-risk and achieve our common goal of ending AIDS.

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