HIV in the Western Pacific Region
Despite an increase in the number of people living with HIV (PLHIV) in Asia and the Pacific from 2001 to 2012, the epidemic is still considered low because the overall prevalence remains well below 1% in most Western Pacific countries. In 2012, regional prevalence among adults stood at 0.1%.
In 2001, the estimated number of people living with HIV in the Western Pacific was 740 000, including 230 000 women and 18 000 children. An estimated total of 1.4 million people were living with HIV in the Western Pacific in 2012, including 400 000 women (29%) and 27 000 children under the age of 15. More than 62 000 people died of AIDS-related illness in 2012.
In 2012, an estimated 110 000 people were newly infected with HIV, including 2800 children under 15 years. This was slightly lower than estimates of new infections in previous years, suggesting that the epidemic is slowing and containment efforts are working.
Almost 90% of HIV infections in the region are reported in just five countries; Cambodia, China, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, and Viet Nam, which have concentrated HIV epidemics. This means that while HIV prevalence rates are below 1% among the general population, they are above 5% in at least one section of the population.
HIV infection is higher among men in the region because they engage more frequently in high-risk behaviours than women.
Certain subpopulations are more at risk of acquiring and transmitting HIV infection than others. These populations may include people who use drugs with needles and syringes, sex workers and their clients, and men who have sex with men. High-risk behaviours include sharing contaminated needles and syringes, engaging in sex with multiple partners and inconsistent condom use.
In the Western Pacific, the HIV epidemic is mostly driven by high-risk groups or key populations. For instance, the 2012 HIV Serological Survey in Malaysia showed that HIV prevalence among sex workers was 4.2%. In Malaysia and Viet Nam in 2012, the HIV prevalence among people who inject drugs was 18.7% and 11.6% respectively. Similarly for men who have sex with men, in 2012, rates of HIV infection range from 6.7%% in China, to 12.6% in Malaysia, and 10.7% in Mongolia.