Asian Governments’ Lack of Action To Fight HIV/AIDS Fueling Pandemic, Opinion Piece Says
"The biggest problem with AIDS in Asia and the Pacific is still the reluctance of many governments to admit the urgent need to deal with the problem," Malaysian AIDS Council President Marina Mahathir and U.N. Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Asia and the Pacific Nafis Sadik write in a Jakarta Post opinion piece. The heads of state for the 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in 2001 issued a leadership declaration against HIV/AIDS, and the seven member states of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation in 2004 called for easy and affordable access to HIV prevention and treatment, according to Mahathir and Sadik. However, the governments' "commitment has yet to be turned into action" and few Asians "have much awareness or are concerned" with HIV/AIDS, the authors write. Many of the awareness campaigns that have been conducted have focused on certain groups -- such as injection drug users, commercial sex workers and men who have sex with men -- which has increased discrimination and caused many people to believe only people in those groups can be affected by HIV, Mahathir and Sadik say. Although the Seventh International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific scheduled for next month in Kobe, Japan, provides the "potential for Japanese leadership for more effective regional efforts against the pandemic, ... lukewarm Japanese government support makes this doubtful," the authors say (Mahathir/Sadik, Jakarta Post, 6/18).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.