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Growing HIV rates among gay, bisexual men in Asia

world Updated: Feb 20, 2009 23:18 IST

AP
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The AIDS virus is spreading rapidly among gay and bisexual men in Asia as younger people shun condoms and authorities fail to increase awareness of the disease, health officials said on Friday.

The epidemic will worsen dramatically in coming years unless there is better education and stronger political will to combat the disease, warned Massimo Ghidinelli, the World Health Organisation’s regional adviser on HIV/AIDS.

His comments came at a news conference after a seminar in Hong Kong at which regional AIDS experts discussed the growing trend.

Asia is believed to have the world’s largest number of men who have sex with other men, with a preliminary estimate of 10 million, according to WHO.

While describing the figure as “extraordinary high,” Ghidinelli said it still appeared to be conservative because of the stigmatization of male-to-male sex.

WHO said fragmentary information from the region indicated a rapid spread of HIV among gay and bisexual men, but that full data weren’t available. The seminar was called to strengthen efforts to study and address the problem, it said.

Ghidinelli said low condom use among younger men in male-to-male relationships was fueling the transmission of HIV.