WHO calls for strategic investments in HIV to halt new infections
HANOI, 27 September 2012 - World Health Organization Regional Director for the Western Pacific Dr Shin Young-soo today urged Member States in the Region to translate commitment into action by accelerating implementation of the HIV interventions agreed on at a high-level meeting in 2011.
"Political commitments made by countries at the United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting in 2011 to reach bold HIV targets by 2015 have not yet led to increased resources to help meet those targets," Dr Shin said.
Dr Shin reported to the Regional Committee for the Western Pacific, WHO's governing body in the Region, on the status of implementation of the Global Health Sector Strategy for HIV/AIDS (2011–2015).
Some countries have pioneered effective health sector responses, such as developing national HIV strategies, improving access to HIV testing and counselling and increasing antiretroviral coverage. However, Dr Shin warned that there is a real danger that the gains of recent years might be eroded by dwindling resources, leaving a majority of countries relying mostly on external funding for HIV prevention and care.
"Renewed strategic and programmatic approaches to increase political leadership, country ownership and community involvement, and to expand prevention and antiretroviral therapy, are needed," Dr Shin said.
These interventions include:
- increasing coverage of comprehensive interventions among high-risk populations to prevent new HIV infections and ensure early treatment;
- renewing efforts to achieve and sustain universal access to antiretroviral treatment with standard quality care;
- committing to the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and congenital syphilis;
- integrating HIV-related services into the broader health system to sustain the scale up of the HIV response;
- strengthening systems for control of sexually transmitted infections that are linked to comprehensive HIV prevention strategies.
More than 90% of people living with HIV in the Region are from Cambodia, China, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea and Viet Nam. High risk groups—sex workers, men having sex with men and people who inject drugs—continue to drive the HIV epidemic. The Philippines is among the few countries globally where incidence of HIV is rising.
"HIV will remain endemic in key populations for many decades, with increasing public health and economic costs," Dr Shin said. "Countries must now make strategic investments in HIV to halt new infections."
In 2010, an estimated 1.3 million adults and children were living with HIV in the Western Pacific Region, with a prevalence rate of 0.1%. New infections declined from 150 000 per year in 2001 to 130 000 in 2010. The number of annual AIDS-related deaths rose from 33 000 in 2001 to 80 000 in 2010, but has stabilized over the past four years.
For more information or request to interview, please contact:
Ms Marilu Lingad
Mobile (Viet Nam): +84 (0)1272643638
Mobile (Philippines): +63 908 891 4532;
Mr Timothy O'Leary
Mobile (Viet Nam): +84 (0)1252093845
Mobile (Philippines): +63 908 886 8738