Defining the response to the AIDS epidemic in the Asia–Pacific region
The Asia–Pacific Intergovernmental Meeting on HIV and AIDS has opened in Bangkok, Thailand. More than 250 representatives of governments, civil society and international organizations from across the region are assessing progress on the response to the AIDS epidemic and considering challenges for the future.
The Asia–Pacific region has achieved significant results in the HIV response over the past decade. In 2013, there were an estimated 350 000 new HIV infections in the region, a decline of 25% since 2001. Between 2005 and 2013, the number of AIDS-related deaths in the region fell by 27%.
Around 1.56 million people living with HIV in the Asia–Pacific region had access to antiretroviral therapy in 2013, a 25% increase over the previous year. However, this still accounts for only one in three people living with HIV, and many people start treatment late.
One of the most pressing challenges for the region is how to ensure that the AIDS response remains financially sustainable. In 2013, more than US$ 2 billion was mobilized for the region’s response to AIDS, with 43% of the funding supplied by international donors. The participants of the meeting are reviewing the financing of national AIDS programmes, with the aim of increasing national investment.
Participants are also discussing the new 90–90–90 global treatment targets, with civil society representatives calling for more community-based HIV services. Although the epidemic in the region is concentrated among key populations, less than 8% of overall AIDS spending is dedicated to HIV prevention among such populations.
Convened by the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific in cooperation with UNAIDS, the United Nations Development Programme and other organizations, the meeting runs until 30 January and is expected to see the adoption of a new regional framework to respond to the epidemic.
“Countries in the Asia–Pacific region have taken responsibility for financing the AIDS response. I am pleased that my own country has taken this important step towards ensuring the financial sustainability of the AIDS response.”
“We know this region is not just a hub of economic transformation but of innovation and with collective energy we can really help to build a new partnership with the rest of the world.”
“Real progress has been made across our region, but scope remains for greater leadership and ownership to achieve our goals. An effective HIV response is possible only with seamless partnerships across countries.”
“Human rights violations, discrimination and punitive laws like the criminalization of drug users, sex workers, same-sex practices and transgender people, have been the greatest barrier to key affected populations accessing services.”