Now Reading
Less than 50% of HIV+ people in Asia Pacific can get medical treatment

Less than 50% of HIV+ people in Asia Pacific can get medical treatment

unaids_michel_sidbe_china_asia_pacific

It has been revealed that less than 50% of people living with HIV (PLHIV) in the Asia Pacific have access to life-saving antiretroviral medicine.

UNAIDS released the figures on World AIDS Day to help publicize the global shortfall in access to quality care and medicine for people living with HIV. The campaign to raise awareness is called ­Right to Health.

The Asia Pacific region includes countries near the western Pacific Ocean. It includes east Asia, southeast Asia and Oceania – Australia, South Pacific Islands and New Zealand.

While some of the HIV statistics from the region are alarming, experts said there have also been some great achievements in HIV in the Asia Pacific

The latest UNAIDS snapshot of the Asia Pacific revealed:

  • Approximately 5.1 million people are living with HIV in Asia and the Pacific;
  • Fewer than half (2.4 million) have access to life-saving antiretroviral medicine;
  • Approximately 170,000 people died due to an AIDS-related illness in 2016;
  • There were an estimated 270,000 new HIV infections in 2016, with 15,000 of them among children.

But the important progress includes a 13% decline in new HIV cases between 2010 and 2016 in the Asia Pacific. In that time there has also been a 30% drop in AIDS-related deaths.

New cases in children in the region have dropped by 38% since 2010.

‘As a global community, we are making profound progress against HIV,’ said Dr Bridget Haire, President of the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO).

‘However, epidemics are dynamic. If you don’t maintain momentum, they quickly regain ascendency.

‘We still have a long way to go in ending HIV in our region. Both the Australian Government and other wealthy nations must maintain their political and financial commitment to preventing and treating HIV wherever it emerges.’

Haire said it was crucial to improve access to HIV medicines. Improved access would men those who are HIV positive could lead a long and healthy lives, without the risk of onward transmission.

She said that tools that prevent HIV such as, antiretrovirals, condoms and rapid HIV tests, must be distributed across Asia.

Focus on high risk groups

‘However, it also requires a dedicated focus on improved access to healthcare for sex workers, people who inject drug and men who have sex with men,’ Haire said.

These communities must deal with the twin threat of being more exposed to HIV and more likely to face stigma and discrimination within health systems.

‘Healthcare is a universal right, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity or level of education.’