November 29, 2012
MANILA (Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa)) -- Asia-Pacific countries must do more to help protect gay men and transgender people from HIV/AIDS, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Thursday.
Access to early testing, counselling and other services related to HIV/AIDS remains inadequate for male homosexuals in Asia and the Pacific, the WHO's Western Pacific regional office said.
It cited the Philippines and Vietnam, where only 25 per cent of gay men were estimated to have access to such services.
In China, where this specialized coverage reaches more than 75 per cent for male homosexuals, HIV infections still increased among the group while declining among people who inject drugs and remaining low among sex workers, the WHO said.
"Unless countries urgently expand access to health services for these key populations, the gains made against the epidemic over the last decade could be jeopardized," the office said in a statement ahead of World AIDS Day on December 1.
In 2011, an estimated 1.3 million people were living with HIV in the 37 territories of the WHO Western Pacific Region, with 80,000 deaths attributed to AIDS.
The number of people becoming infected with HIV declined from 150,000 per year in 2000 to 130,000 in 2011, the WHO said.
Shin Young Soo, WHO regional director for the Western Pacific, said the data showed that improved access to prevention, treatment, care and support services helped reduce HIV infections.
He said countries must now target these interventions to men who have sex with men and transgender people.
"We need to strengthen our programmes to ensure that these key populations receive the support they need to protect themselves," he said.
"We need to scale up and improve sustained, comprehensive, effective and stigma-free HIV prevention efforts focusing on and working with men who have sex with men and transgender people," he added.
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