HIV incidence on the rise among women in Asia, UN says
HIV rates are on the rise among Asian women, highlighting the need for new policy priorities, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) warned Monday.
In 2007, women accounted for 35 per cent of all people living with HIV in Asia, up from 18 per cent in 1990, DPA reported.
Asian governments must pay more attention to the needs of women in their national HIV/AIDS policies, said Moni Pizani, regional programme director for the United Nations Development Fund for Women.
"Tackling harmful gender norms that are at the root of women's vulnerability to HIV is crucial to stem the spread of the epidemic," Pizani told a seminar in Pattaya, 90 kilometres south-east of Bangkok.
A breakdown of HIV incidence by country from 2006 showed women account for 47 per cent of infected people in Cambodia, 37 per cent in India, 21 per cent in Indonesia, 15 per cent in Malaysia, 24 per cent in Nepal, 40 per cent in the Philippines, 37 per cent in Sri Lanka and 35 per cent in Thailand.
"Political leaders must champion the human rights of sex workers, men who have sex with men, people who use illicit drugs - and especially their intimate partners - to effectively prevent new HIV infections," Pizani said.
It is estimated that 10 million Asian women sell sex and at least 75 million Asian men buy sex regularly, according to a 2008 report by the UN Commission on AIDS in Asia.
The same report estimated that at least 50 million Asian women are at risk of acquiring HIV from their partners.
"A gender focus is crucial to stem the spread of HIV fuelled by gender inequalities that increasingly place women and girls at risk," UNAIDS Asia Pacific regional gender advisor Jane Wilson said.