Indonesia on cusp of AIDS epidemic: Peter Piot | india | Hindustan Times
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Indonesia on cusp of AIDS epidemic: Peter Piot

Piot, who will spend World AIDS day here on Thursday, said that Indonesia needed every layer of society to join the battle against HIV.

india Updated: Nov 29, 2005 16:18 IST

Indonesia, the world's fourth most populous country, is on the brink of an AIDS epidemic and must act quickly to fight its spread, UNAIDS chief Peter Piot said today as he began a four-day visit here.

Piot, who will spend World AIDS day here on Thursday, said that Indonesia needed every layer of society to join the battle against HIV, the virus causing AIDS, as it was now the "new frontline of the AIDS epidemic".

"When I look at Indonesia from the perspective globally I would say that there's no doubt that Indonesia is in the early stages of an AIDS epidemic," he told a press briefing after meeting with coordinating minister for social welfare, Alwi Shihab.

Indonesia estimates it has 90,000 to 130,000 people infected with HIV.

But other statistics show at least 600,000 intravenous drug users are in the sprawling archipelago country, with around half believed to be infected, the minister said.

Piot said that besides drug users, sex workers and their clients were clocking in "alarmingly high and increasing" infection rates, while in the eastern province of Papua, the virus was spreading speedily through the heterosexual population.

"We have these three different epidemics going on and we know from experience that once it starts like that it's only a matter of time before HIV spreads outside these fairly defined populations," he said.

He said that while President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono made his commitment to fighting AIDS clear, "we need that same level of commitment of all levels of society.