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UN says AIDS epidemic in Asia may become world's largest

UN says AIDS epidemic in Asia may become world's largest

Outside of sub-Saharan Africa, more people live with HIV/AIDS in Asia than in any other region on earth, the head of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) said today.

“The epidemic in Asia threatens to become the largest in the world,” Dr. Peter Piot, Executive Director of UNAIDS, said at the World Economic Forum’s East Asia Economic Summit in Kuala Lumpur. With more than half of the world’s population, the region must treat AIDS as an issue of regional urgency.”

Dr. Piot said HIV had already spread to more than 6 million people across Asia and that if the epidemic were not tackled now, it would have far-reaching effects, destabilizing societies and damaging productivity. "The question is no longer whether Asia will have a major epidemic, but rather how massive it will be," he said.

UNAIDS says about 1 million people in China and 3.97 million in India are living with HIV/AIDS. Across Asia, 1 million of the 6.6 million people living with the disease were infected last year.