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U.N. Says Asia Pacific Region Making Strides Against HIV/AIDS, Must Address Social And Legal Barriers To Treatment, Prevention

The U.N. Economic and Social Commission for the Asia Pacific (ESCAP) on Monday in Bangkok “opened a three-day meeting lauding impressive gains in recent years in the fight against HIV/AIDS,” but the body cautioned “there are still legal and social barriers that significantly set back eradication efforts,” VOA News reports. U.N. ESCAP Executive Secretary Noeleen Heyzer “note[d] the gains are uneven and there are still gaps in the goal of universal access to HIV treatment,” the news service writes.

“‘There are still almost two new infections for every person who starts treatment. These new infections remain concentrated among key population of higher risk: People who buy and sell sex, people who inject drugs, men who have sex with men [MSM] and trans-gender people,’ Heyzer stated,” according to VOA (Schearf, 2/6). “[A]n estimated 90 percent of Asia-Pacific countries have punitive laws, policies or practices that block access to services for people at risk of and living with HIV/AIDS,” the U.N. News Centre reports, adding, “Stigma and discrimination are also widespread among the infected, contributing to loss of jobs and diminished access to health care” (2/6).