HANOI, Sept. 27 (Xinhua) -- World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for the Western Pacific Shin Young-soo said Thursday that member states in the region should accelerate implementation of the HIV interventions.
"HIV will remain endemic in key populations for many decades, with increasing public health and economic costs. Countries must now make strategic investments in HIV to halt new infections," Shin said during the ongoing 63rd meeting of WHO Regional Committee for the Western Pacific in Hanoi.
According to Shin, political commitments made by countries at the United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting in 2011 to reach bold HIV targets by 2015 have not yet led to increased resources to help meet those targets.
He said some countries have pioneered effective health sector responses, such as developing national HIV strategies, improving access to HIV testing and counseling and increasing antiretroviral coverage. However, there is a real danger that the gains of recent years might be eroded by dwindling resources, leaving a majority of countries relying mostly on external funding for HIV prevention and care.
"Renewed strategic and programmatic approaches to increase political leadership, country ownership and community involvement, and to expand prevention and antiretroviral therapy, are needed," Shin said.
According to WHO, more than 90 percent of people living with HIV in the region are from Cambodia, China, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea and Vietnam. The Philippines is among the few countries globally where incidence of HIV is rising.
In 2010, an estimated 1.3 million adults and children were living with HIV in the Western Pacific Region, with a prevalence rate of 0.1 percent. New infections declined from 150,000 per year in 2001 to 130,000 in 2010. The number of annual AIDS-related deaths rose from 33,000 in 2001 to 80,000 in 2010, but has stabilized over the past four years.