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Annual HIV infections down by a quarter in Asia-Pacific since 2001

New HIV infections were down in 2012 by 26 per cent since 2001 in the Asia-Pacific region, to an estimated 350,000,clinching the region's reputation as an Aids-response success story, the United Nations said Tuesday.

"The Aids response in Asia and the Pacific has seen some of the world’s greatest successes," said Michel Sidibe, UNAIDS Executive Director, in the foreword to the report titled HIV in Asia and the Pacific 2013.

Nearly half of the region’s HIV cases, or 1.24 million people, had access to treatment in 2012, an increase of 46 per cent from 2009,the report said.

"As a result, for many of the 4.9 million people living with HIV (world wide), the disease is no longer a death sentence, but a manageable chronic condition," said the report.

There were an estimated 270,000 Aids-related deaths last year in the Asia-Pacific region, a 18-per-cent decline since 2005.

UNAIDS attributed the region’s success in combatting the HIV/Aids epidemic to "effective community leadership," and impressive government spending.

Domestic public spending for Aids programmes in the region amounted to 1.3 billion dollars in 2012, 59 per cent of the total Aids spending in the region, the report said.

Among countries most impacted by HIV, Malaysia funds 97 per cent of its own Aids response, China 88 per cent and Thailand 85 per cent, it noted.

Although generally a success story, UNAIDS warned "there are signs that the progress in Asia and the Pacific may be at risk of stagnating." "In some countries, there are new HIV epidemics in local geographic areas and among key populations at higher risk -particularly men who have sex with men," Sidibe said.

HIV prevalence among men who have sex with men is especially high in major Asian cities, with a 24.7-per-cent prevalence in Bangkok, 17.2 per cent in Jakarta and 14 per cent in Ho Chi Minh.

"The pace of progress needs to be redoubled to sustain past achievements, drive results and meet global Aids targets by the end of 2015," Sidibe said.




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