Rates of HIV in the Asia Pacific region are growing fastest among men who have sex with men (MSM), a new United Nations report has shown.
“If governments in this region are serious about reaching their targets to reduce rates of HIV, they must do more to work directly with MSM and transgender community groups to develop real solutions,” Asia Pacific Coalition on Male Sexual Health (APCOM) executive director Midnight Poonkasetwattana responded to the release of the UN’s HIV in Asia and the Pacific: Getting to Zero at the 2013 International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific (ICAAP).
The report estimated that only eight percent of overall AIDS spending in region is dedicated to the prevention of HIV prevention among key populations – including MSM and transgender people.
“It is estimated that within the next three years, up to 50 percent of new HIV infections in Asia and the Pacific will occur within MSM communities. An allocation of just eight percent of funds to address this simply isn’t enough,” Poonkasetwattana said.
“Core funding must be increased to civil society organisations. Evidence has shown that community-based services are the most successful avenues to reach MSM and transgender people with information on HIV prevention and treatment. Communities at the grassroots are already developing solutions that work, now we must increase support to grow those services and make them accessible to all.”
According to the UN, regionally, rates of new HIV infections have fallen 26 percent since 2001. India, Myanmar, Nepal, PNG and Thailand had achieved a reduction of over 50 percent.
“This is indeed positive news, but while the rates of new infection decrease among the wider community, they continue to increase among MSM and transgender communities. This is where the core focus of work to address HIV must be directed, if we are to achieve our global ambition to achieve zero new infections.”
The UNAIDS report HIV in Asia and the Pacific: Getting to Zero features specific information on MSM in a feature ‘HIV among men who have sex with men in Asia and the Pacific: a matter of urgency’.