AIDS may infect 10 mn in China by 2010: WHO
In China, the virus has spread to all 31 provinces and autonomous regions with injected drug use the main route of transmission. A similar situation exists in Malaysia and Vietnam.india Updated: Nov 29, 2005 20:39 IST
Some 10 million people in China may be infected with the AIDS virus by 2010, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Tuesday, as it called for stronger political will by Asian governments to stop the spread of the disease.
About 5 million people worldwide were infected last year, bringing to 45 million the number living with the virus despite measures designed to prevent AIDS from spreading, said Shigeru Omi, WHO director for the Western Pacific region.
"We know what works and what doesn't. So why has the necessary action to prevent the virus from spreading not been taken?" Omi said in a statement ahead of the World AIDS Day on Thursday. "Why is the epidemic still growing and not reversing?"
In China, the virus has spread to all 31 provinces and autonomous regions with injected drug use the main route of transmission. A similar situation exists in Malaysia and Vietnam.
If nothing was done to promote HIV prevention, the WHO said, some 10 million Chinese may be infected in the next five years.
Omi called on governments in the region to review progress on the targets set under the Millennium Development Goals and the UN General Assembly Declaration in 2001 to cut the prevalence of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and reverse the epidemic by 2015.
"These promises need to be translated into effective action," he said.
Based on WHO data, more than 25 million people have died of AIDS since 1981, the leading cause of death among those aged 15 to 49 worldwide.
More than 13,000 people contract the virus every day, with drug use and the sex trade as the drivers of the epidemic across the Western Pacific region.
In Asia, Cambodia has the highest HIV prevalence rate at 1.9 per cent of the population, with nearly 21 percent of sex workers infected.
Omi said there was still enough time to meet the goals, noting a dramatic 20-fold increase in donor funding for HIV/AIDS since 1996 to $6 billion last year.
He said almost 1 million people in developing countries worldwide were receiving anti-retroviral therapy but that was still short of the target of 3 million by the end of 2005.