HIV on the rise among Asian women

2010-06-28 08:53

HIV rates are on the rise among Asian women, highlighting the need

for new policy priorities, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/Aids

(UNAIDS) has warned.

In 2007, women accounted for 35% of all people living with HIV in

Asia, up from 18% in 1990.

Asian governments must pay more attention to the needs of women in

their national HIV/Aids policies, said Moni Pizani, regional programme director

for the United Nations Development Fund for Women.

“Tackling harmful gender norms that are at the root of women’s

vulnerability to HIV is crucial to stem the spread of the epidemic,” Pizani told

a seminar in Pattaya, 90km southeast of Bangkok.

A breakdown of HIV incidence by country from 2006 showed that women

accounted for 47% of infected people in Cambodia, 37% in India, 21% in

Indonesia, 15% in Malaysia, 24% in Nepal, 40% in the Philippines, 37% in Sri

Lanka and 35% in Thailand.

“Political leaders must champion the human rights of sex workers,

men who have sex with men, people who use illicit drugs, and especially their

intimate partners, to prevent new HIV infections,” Pizani said.

It is estimated that 10 million Asian women sell sex and 75 million

Asian men buy sex regularly, according to a 2008 report by the UN Commission on

Aids in Asia.

The same report estimated that 50 million Asian women were at risk

of acquiring HIV from their partners.

“A gender focus is crucial to stem the spread of HIV fuelled by

gender inequalities that increasingly place women and girls at risk,” said

UNAIDS Asia-Pacific regional gender adviser Jane Wilson.


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