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Senior UN AIDS Official says
Asia Close to Winning AIDs Treatment Battle. But as Ron Corben reports from
Bangkok, Prasada Rao warns access to remote regions in China and India, and
disrupted AIDS programs in Pakistan and Afghanistan leave millions at risk.
The departing head of the U.N. AIDS program in the Asia-Pacific region, Prasada
Rao, says the region is within three years of "winning the battle"
against the AIDS pandemic.
Rao, who has led the U.N. AIDS program in the region for the past five years,
says increased treatment coverage and intervention programs are turning the
tide against AIDS.
In Thailand and Cambodia treatment coverage has reached almost 90 percent. In
India 50 percent of patients get treatment, but in China the number stands at
30 percent and 35 percent in Burma.
In South and Southeast Asia the rate of new HIV infections has fallen by more
than 10 percent since 2001, thanks to an increase in prevention and treatment
programs. But there are still 4.7 million people living with AIDS in the region
and around 350,000 new infections each year.
Rao acknowledges that concerns remain, especially because of problems expanding
AIDS programs in remote locations in China, India and Indonesia.
Indonesia's Papua province and neighboring Papua New Guinea have seen cases
rise sharply in the past few years. The U.N. predicts that by 2012 about five
percent of Papua New Guinea's population will be infected with HIV, the virus
that causes AIDS - more than 208,000 people.
Other problems facing the UN Aids program in Asia include the fighting in
Afghanistan and Pakistan, which blocks access to remote areas. But Rao says the
U.N. is able to work elsewhere in Pakistan with the support of the central and