AIDS can pose a serious threat to the economic and social development of South Asian countries including India, which has chunk of regions HIV infected population, the World Bank has said.
There are estimated 2.6 million people suffering from the dreaded disease in the region.
A World Bank report, "HIV and AIDS in South Asia: An Economic Development Risk," released yesterday said that even if the overall prevalence rate is low (up to 0.5 per cent), there is high and rising HIV prevalence among the vulnerable groups.
"Without increasing prevention interventions among those at highest risk, these concentrated epidemics can further escalate," the report warned.
Even in the low HIV prevalence countries of South Asia, there cannot be any room for complacency," said Mariam Claeson, World Bank HIV and AIDS Coordinator for South Asia.
"While the impact of HIV and AIDS on economic growth is small in South Asia, the welfare cost on households is by no means negligible," Claeson said in a statement.
"HIV and AIDS also have an enormous disproportionate impact on vulnerable and often marginalised people at highest risk of infection, and on poor households with less access to information, preventive services and treatment," Claeson said.