GENEVA, Aug. 26 (Xinhua) -- The number of new HIV infections in the Asia and Pacific region has dropped by 20 percent between 2001 and 2009, a UN report said here on Friday.
According to the report, titled HIV in Asia and the Pacific: Getting to Zero, the number of new HIV infections in Asia and Pacific dropped from about 450,000 in 2001 to 360,000 in 2009, thanks to government-invested preventative programs and increased access to antiretroviral drugs.
About 4.7 million people in the region are currently estimated to be living with HIV, with the majority of them in Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Thailand and Vietnam.
Cambodia, India, Myanmar and Thailand have reduced their HIV infection rates significantly with intensive HIV prevention programs for people who buy and sell sex, said the report.
However, the report said such progress was threatened by an inadequate focus on key populations at higher risk of HIV infection and insufficient funding from both domestic and international sources.
Despite a three-fold increase in the access to antiretroviral therapy since 2006, more than 60% of people in Asia and the Pacific who were eligible for HIV treatment still could not access it by the end of 2009, the report said.
"Getting to zero new HIV infections in Asia and the Pacific will demand national responses based on science and the best available evidence," said UNAIDS Executive Director, Michel Sidibe.
Meanwhile, the report also warned governments to specifically target high-risk populations.
New HIV infections in the region remain concentrated among key populations, such as people who buy and sell sex, people who inject drugs, men who have sex with men, and transgender people, it said, adding that most programs to protect key populations and their intimate partners from HIV infection are inadequate in size and scale.
In the Philippines city of Cebu, HIV prevalence among people who inject drugs increased from 0.6% to 53% between 2009 and 2011.
Regional coverage of HIV services to prevent new HIV infections in children also continued to lag behind global averages, particularly in South Asia, the report said, despite an estimated 15% decrease in new HIV infections among children since 2006.
The report noted that AIDS/HIV programs in Asia and the Pacific was under-funded, with international assistance for the global AIDS response declined for the first time in a decade in 2010.
In 2009, an estimated 1.1 billion U.S. dollars was spent in AIDS/HIV programs in 30 countries across the region--approximately one third of the funding needed to achieve universal access goals to HIV services.
Though China, Malaysia, Pakistan, Samoa and Thailand are funding the bulk of their HIV response from domestic resources, many countries in Asia and the Pacific depend heavily on foreign funding, particularly for the provision of antiretroviral therapy.
"HIV programs must be sufficiently resourced and solidly focused on key populations. Investments made today will pay off many-fold in the future", said Sidibe.