UN regional unit sounds alarm on spread of HIV/AIDS among Asia-Pacific youth

28 June 2006

With 60 per cent of new HIV infections in Thailand and Vietnam among young people, a report released today by the United Nations commission for regional development in the Asia-Pacific region calls on governments in the area to target youth in the fight against the pandemic.

“Young people are the hardest hit – half of all new infections have occurred among youth,” warns the report, issued by the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP). “Focusing HIV prevention on youth offers the greatest hope for containing the spread of HIV in Asia and the Pacific.”

Poverty, gender discrimination and lack of access to information and health services have increased youth vulnerability to HIV, the ESCAP report says.

The biggest hurdle, however, to providing effective HIV/AIDS prevention services is lack of cohesive policy, the report points out. Governments must coordinate their HIV prevention efforts across all departments and throughout the region, and they must actually implement policies, it urges.

ESCAP is also urging major pharmaceutical producers to offer life-saving supplies at affordable prices. “Major producers of drugs and supplies, such as China, India and Thailand, could consider the formation of a regional compact to make them available at prices which vulnerable groups, including youth, could afford,” it states.

The report says the region clearly needs more money to fight the disease. “A comprehensive response to the AIDS pandemic in Asia and the Pacific will require an estimated investment of $5.1 billion annually by 2007,” it concludes.


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