WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2016

Fight against HIV/AIDS in Asia and Pacific far from over

The United Nations Children's Fund said on Tuesday that the rate of HIV/AIDS infection in children and teenagers in Asia-Pacific is not slowing down, and needs accelerated action to squelch the pandemic.

"We have the opportunity to raise an AIDS-free generation in Asia and the Pacific," Dr. UNICEF Deputy Regional Director for East Asia and the Pacific Isiye Ndombi said.

Ndombi said it is important to ensure that "no child is born with HIV, and that those children living with HIV have access to the treatment, care and support they need to remain alive and well."

Approximately 350,000 people were infected with HIV in Asia and the Pacific in 2012, with more than 6 percent children under 14 years old. Approximately 240,000 teenagers live with HIV in Asia and the Pacific, according to UNICEF.

UNICEF reported the region saw a 9 percent reduction between 2010 and 2012 in new HIV infections among newborns, but progress falls short of the 90-percent goal.

"Adolescence is a difficult time for all young people, when they have to negotiate the change from childhood to adulthood, and this can affect their adherence to medication and access to treatment," Shiba Phurailatpam, the director of APN+, said. "The groups particularly at risk in this region include young gay and bisexual men, young intravenous drug users, and young sex workers."

The 11th International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific began on Monday in Bangkok. Attendees of the conference will discuss how to reach disaffected groups living with HIV.

"If we are to achieve an AIDS free generation in this region, much more attention will need to be paid to addressing the risks faced by children and adolescents, both at ICAAP and beyond," Ndombi said.