Malaysia among Asia-Pacific countries with most new AIDS infections

A United Nations report finds that Malaysia is one of the 10 countries which together accounted for over 95% of all new HIV infections in the Asia-Pacific region, Bernama reported today.

The report, compiled by the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) “Ending AIDS: Progress Towards the 90-90-90 Targets”, said the other nine Asia-Pacific countries that had large constituencies of new HIV infections in 2016 are India, China, Indonesia, Pakistan, Vietnam, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and Thailand.

However, a graph in the report shows that Malaysia was the fifth most successful Asia-Pacific country to reduce its HIV infection rate between 2010 and 2016.

The report said the HIV epidemic in the Asia-Pacific was largely concentrated among “sex workers and their clients, gay men and other men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs, and transgender people”.

“The annual number of new HIV infections in Asia and the Pacific has declined 13% over the last six years, from 310,000 in 2010 to 270 000 in 2016.

“Trends vary from country to country. Steep reductions in annual new infections occurred in Thailand (50% decrease) Viet Nam (34% decrease) and Myanmar (26% decrease) between 2010 and 2016, while annual new infections climbed in Pakistan (39% increase) and the Philippines (141% increase) over the same period.”

It also contains an extensive analysis of the targets set for 2020. By that year, 90% of all HIV-infected people should know their status, 90% of all HIV-diagnosed people should be able to access anti-retroviral therapy (ART) and 90% of those taking ART are virally suppressed.  These three targets are known as the “Three 90s”.

Malaysia scored 89% in the first target of making people aware that they are HIV positive through the wide availabilty of community-based testing. However, the country scored poorly in ensuring HIV-positive people had access to treatment, with only 39% of patients undergoing anti-viral therapy. Of those who are on treatment, 89% are virally suppressed, but this makes up only 35% of all Malaysians who are HIV-positive.

For the first time in the fight against AIDS, more than half of all people living with the HIV virus now have access to treatment while deaths caused by AIDS had been reduced by nearly 50 per cent since 2005, according to the report.

Another encouraging development, according to the report, is that some 19.5 million of the world’s 36.7 million HIV-infected people had access to treatment, which showed AIDS-related deaths declining from 1.9 million in 2005 to one million.

The target is to put 30 million people worldwide on treatment by 2020, according to the report.

Source – The Malaysian Insight