HIV in the Western Pacific Region
Responding to HIV epidemic
Responding to the HIV epidemic involves preventative health promotion as well as curbing the HIV epidemic.
WHO takes the lead in the global health sector response to HIV/AIDS, by providing evidence-based technical support to countries to achieve the internationally endorsed goal of universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services by 2015.
Key health sector interventions focus on HIV testing and counselling, prevention of HIV among most-at-risk populations, and treatment and care of HIV and AIDS through the provision of antiretroviral medications.
A high level response in Asia and the Pacific
In the Western Pacific, intensified political commitment in the past five years, has led to a significant increases in available resources and the establishment of broad national HIV/AIDs programmes. To respond to the HIV epidemic, WHO is supporting equitable access to HIV testing and counselling; prevention for key populations; scaling up treatment and care; and appropriate services for women and children .
HIV testing and counselling
The majority of people living with HIV/AIDS are still unaware of their status. The provision of HIV testing and counselling services has increased overall in the region, with more people accessing testing. Moving forward, greater coverage of key populations by enhancing services, and reducing stigma and discrimination, will improve access to testing.
Prevention for key populations
Prevention of HIV among key populations varies greatly in Asia and the Pacific. Overall, limited availability of information, uncertainty about population sizes and large sizes of “invisible sub-groups” are some of the challenges faced in evaluating prevention activities. Current evidence shows that condom use among sex workers is high in many countries, especially in sex work establishments. Prevention coverage among men who have sex with men and people who inject drugs is on the rise, but the coverage is largely insufficient given the fast spread of HIV documented in many countries.
Treatment and care
Anti-retroviral therapy (ART) has been rapidly scaled up in the region. As of 2012, 310,000 people living with HIV were on ART, compared with 17,000 in 2004 The 2012 coverage rate is 53%, indicating the need for urgent action to achieve the target of universal access to treatment and care.
Interventions for women and children
Appropriate services to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV are still inadequate in Asia and the Pacific, even though availability of services and higher uptake of testing among women have been documented. As a consequence, there are many new cases of paediatric HIV. Despite the late start of paediatric treatment in the region, evidence has shown good coverage of ART among children living with HIV.
Future incidence of HIV/AIDS will be directly influenced by the level at which HIV prevention and treatment are sustained and strengthened. In the Region, more efforts are needed:
- to track and monitor both epidemics and responses, with a particular focus on the main drivers of the epidemic;
- to ensure the quality and sustainability of established services;
- to expand health sector interventions to achieve universal access; and
- to scale up HIV services for women and children.