Key vulnerable populations to HIV must be reached urgently: WHO

Today on World AIDS Day, the World Health Organization (WHO) regional offices for South-East Asia and the Western Pacific are calling on Member States to recognize key populations most vulnerable to HIV that must be reached urgently

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Dr Shin Young-soo, WHO regional director, Western Pacific

This implies that the communities most vulnerable to HIV are equal partners with governments in responding to the epidemic.

Nearly five million people were living with HIV in the Asia-Pacific region in 2013, about one-sixth of the global burden. The regional HIV burden is the second highest after Sub-Saharan Africa with an estimated 350,000 new HIV infections in 2013.

"Although HIV numbers have fallen in some countries, the epidemic is rising quickly in many others and is concentrated in key populations," said Dr Shin Young-soo, WHO regional director, Western Pacific. "Less than half of all HIV positive people across Asia and the Pacific are aware of their status and less than half of those who need anti-retroviral drugs are taking them. Closing the HIV testing and treatment gaps can improve support and access to lifesaving medicine for those in need. Otherwise, we may not aspire to the global goal of ending AIDS by 2030."

"We've seen that effective partnerships between health systems and key populations lead to greater access to HIV testing and lifesaving treatment, increased domestic resources for HIV/AIDS programmes and reduced stigma and discrimination," said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, WHO regional director for Southeast Asia.

She further added, "A collaborative approach results in better health outcomes. A prime example is WHO's consolidated guidelines on HIV prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care for key populations, where significant input was provided by the key populations themselves."

 

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