Photo Credit: UN ESCAP

The HIV epidemic in Asia and the Pacific continues to outpace the response. New infections are primarily concentrated in urban centres and among key populations at higher risk of HIV exposure - people who buy and sell sex, people who inject drugs, men who have sex with men, youth and transgender people. Individuals from these groups face legal and policy barriers that impede their access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support and drive stigma and discrimination. While many countries in Asia and the Pacific have taken concrete steps to reform national laws that impeded universal access to HIV services, punitive laws, policies and practices remain widespread.

According to available data:

  • 22 countries reported to criminalize sexual activities between consenting adult men
  • 35 countries reported to criminalize some aspect of sex work
  • 33 countries reported to criminalize soliciting
  • 18 countries reported to criminalize sex work in private
  • 11 countries reported to maintain compulsory detention centres for people who use drugs
  • 15 countries reported to impose death penalty for drug-related offences
  • 10 countries reported to maintain some form of restriction on the entry, stay and residence of people living with HIV based on their HIV status
  • 10 countries reported to criminalize HIV transmission or exposure

ESCAP’s response to HIV and AIDS has been guided by the ESCAP roadmap to 2015 adopted during the “Asia-Pacific High-level Intergovernmental Meeting on the Assessment of Progress against Commitments in the Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS and the Millennium Development Goals” convened by ESCAP in cooperation with seven UN entities from 6 to 8 February 2012 in Bangkok.

In pursuance of the 2011 Political Declaration, ESCAP resolutions 66/10 and 67/9 and the ESCAP roadmap to 2015, ESCAP provides technical support to governments and other stakeholders in:

  • Creating inclusive platforms to promote regional cooperation among Asia-Pacific governments, with active participation from people living with HIV, civil society and private-sector groups, to address these challenges.
  • Providing technical support to Asia-Pacific governments to carry out national multisectoral consultations on policy and legal barriers to universal access to prevention, treatment, care and support.
  • Providing technical support to support Asia-Pacific governments to carry out participatory and inclusive national reviews on implementing ESCAP resolutions 66/10 and 67/9, and the 2011 Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS.
  • Strengthening the evidence base on good practices and lessons learned in meeting regional and international commitments on HIV and AIDS.

ESCAP will convene the Asia-Pacific Intergovernmental Meeting on HIV and AIDS from 28 to 30 January 2015 to assess national progress in meeting the commitments contained in the 2011 Political Declaration and in ESCAP resolutions 66/10 and 67/9 as well as to evaluate the outcomes of national reviews of policy and legal barriers and to review measures to enhance the financial sustainability and effectiveness of AIDS response. The Meeting will be convened in Bangkok in cooperation with UNAIDS, UNDP and other relevant United Nations entities.