Asia should spend more to tackle AIDS, says UN

Published: Wednesday 30 April 2008

a un report says Asian countries should spend more on tackling aids or the disease may kill over 500,000 in the continent. The un commission on aids in Asia which submitted its report to the un secretary general Ban Ki-moon on March 23, says at present 440,000 people die of aids each year in Asia. un set up the commission under C Rangarajan, chief economic adviser to the prime minister, in June 2006.

The report says hiv will affect 10 million Asians by 2020. The report pins down on three key factors for the rapid spread of hiv in the continent: unprotected commercial sex, injecting drug use and unprotected sex between men. It estimates each aids death bears an economic loss of us $5,000. "For every dollar we spend on preventing hiv today, we would save eight dollars on treatment costs in the future," the report notes. An annual budget of one billion dollars for focused prevention programmes among populations under grave risk of hiv could reduce infections by 60 per cent in Asia.

India has raised its aids budget from Rs 259 crore in 2004 to Rs 969 crore in 2008. But its hiv mission faces a shortage of manpower, says Samarjit Jana, national programme officer of India's National Aids Control Organisation. "There are 1.5 million sex workers living in brothels and red light areas. We could reach up to only a half." He adds that some states are not cooperating in carrying out the programmes.

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