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New Asia Pacific Statistics Reveal an Alarming Incidence of HIV in MSM
Date:11/28/2007

NGOs side by side with affected communities will finally make the difference in creating a truly regional strategy to address the MSM HIV crisis -- and yes, even though it's an overused word or sounds like a clich, this is a crisis, make no mistake about that.''

In 2006, a year before APCOM's creation, JVR Prasada Rao, director of UNAIDS RST-AP, had warned that "data in Asia show that without interventions, male to male sex will become one of the main sources of new HIV infections in the region.'' He added, ''We are facing a public health crisis, but you would never know it from the region's almost invisible response so far'' -- a fact supported by a UNAIDS report published this past August, Men who have sex with men -- the missing piece in national responses to AIDS in Asia and the Pacific.

The China Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CCDC) recently stated that HIV prevention for MSM was the latest hurdle for the government's drive to curb a fast-rising AIDS epidemic. In fact, China -- the world's most populous nation -- was the first country in the region to issue a specific national framework on MSM and HIV, which calls for urgent efforts to engage civil society in a concerted effort to reach out to men who have sex with men. China recently reported that male to male sexual transmission now accounts for 12.5 percent of new HIV cases in 2007, up from 2.5 percent in 2005.

Reflecting the growing regional awareness for enhanced surveillance that incorporates epidemiology as well as sociocultural awareness, the Center for HIV/AIDS/STI (CHAS) in Laos PDR has conducted the first survey of HIV among MSM in Laos and will soon be releasing the results. As governments and health partners across the Asia Pacific wake up to the realization that national HIV prevention strategies must include a significant MSM component, APCOM and its partners stand ready to support and strengthen such approaches.

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SOURCE Asia Pacific Coalition on Male Sexual Health
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