Statistical Yearbook for Asia and the Pacific 2012
 
   
Statistical Yearbook for Asia and the Pacific 2013
 
B.3. HIV and AIDS

The HIV epidemic has been stabilizing in the Asian and Pacific region overall. However, new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths are on the increase in some subregions, and the prevention of new infections among populations at risk remains a key challenge. Between 2007 and 2011, new HIV infections increased by approximately 21 per cent in South-East Asia and in South and South-West Asia. This trend, coupled with funding and policy challenges, underlines the importance of countries’ renewed commitments at the 2011 High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on AIDS (see box 1) to combat the disease.

Data are collected regularly in many countries in the region, but more analysis and evaluation are needed to translate them into strategic information for action. Data-related challenges include data gaps for some marginalized groups, inconsistent disaggregation of information by age and gender, and the late release (or lack) of surveillance data in some countries.

There has been mixed progress in reducing new HIV infections and AIDSrelated deaths.

In 2011, an estimated 5.8 million people were living with HIV in the region. The countries with the largest epidemics (China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Russian Federation, Thailand and Viet Nam accounted for more than 90 per cent of people living with HIV in the region) reported positive results in addressing their epidemics. The trend in South and South- West Asia is dominated by India with its large number of new HIV infections but that is a number that declined, however, from 144,000 in 2007 to 131,000 in 2011. In neighbouring Pakistan, recent data from national surveillance indicate that the epidemic is expanding.1 Trends in the HIV epidemic vary across the countries of South-East Asia. Although there was a declining trend between 2006 and 2011 in early epidemic countries such as Cambodia, Myanmar and Thailand, the epidemic in other countries of the subregion has continued to expand, accounting for an overall rising trend in the subregion. There are similar concerns that HIV is increasing in North and Central Asia, with about 990,000 people living with HIV in the Russian Federation.2

Figure B.3-1
HIV prevalence in Asia and the Pacific, total, 2011

Figure B.3-1 HIV prevalence in Asia and the Pacific, total, 2011

There are key populations at higher risk of HIV exposure and transmission.

HIV is particularly affecting specific populations (as well as their intimate partners), such as people who inject drugs, male and female sex workers and their clients, and men who have sex with men, as well as certain vulnerable populations, such as migrants, transgender persons, refugees, prisoners and orphans, in specific countries or contexts throughout the region. The risk behaviours of these populations (having unprotected sex and sharing injecting equipment), compounded by socioeconomic factors within countries, are the main drivers of the epidemic. Young people below 25 years of age from these key populations face yet more risks, as data consistently show that they are even less likely than their older counterparts to use condoms or to seek testing for HIV. HIV is also concentrated in certain geographical areas, particularly cities, in many countries in Asia and the Pacific.

In general, HIV prevalence is highest among people who inject drugs compared with other key populations at higher risk. In 2011, prevalence was above 10 per cent in Armenia, Cambodia, Indonesia, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Pakistan, the Philippines, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Thailand and Viet Nam. It was as high as 36.4 per cent in Indonesia. In Australia, Georgia and Viet Nam, however, there was a higher prevalence among men who have sex with men.

Figure B.3-2
HIV prevalence among people who inject drugs, Asia and the Pacific, total

Figure B.3-2 HIV prevalence among people who inject drugs, Asia and the Pacific, totalHIV prevalence in the region tends to be higher or increasing among men who have sex with men, with rates that reached upwards of 30 per cent in Thailand and Viet Nam in 2011 for the age group 25 years or older. National estimates of HIV prevalence in men who have sex with men above 10 per cent are seen in Australia, Mongolia, Thailand and Viet Nam.

With the exception of Cambodia in 2009 and Papua New Guinea in 2011, countries in the region have less than 10 per cent national HIV prevalence among sex workers, including Myanmar, which was the one country above 15 per cent in 2009. However, high HIV prevalence is still found in some geographical locations within countries–usually in cities, hot-spot border areas and areas where sex workers or their clients inject drugs. The clients of sex workers represent a very large number of men at a higher risk of HIV infection, but very few prevention programmes are aimed at this key population.

A comparison of the HIV prevalence data among young (under 25 years) key populations versus older cohorts clearly shows that young people are still at risk and are becoming infected in the region.

Figure B.3-3
HIV prevalence in male and female sex workers, Asia and the Pacific, total

Figure B.3-3 HIV prevalence in male and female sex workers, Asia and the Pacific, total

Methods of prevention are more available, but coverage and community involvement are still inadequate in many countries.

Despite decades-long efforts to scale up prevention services among key populations at higher risk, protective behaviours have still not been widely adopted by certain populations, with prevention levels varying widely across countries. Thus, for 2011, figures for the indicators of HIVrisk, such as condom use at last sex, vary widely from as low as 8 per cent in Azerbaijan to 81 per cent in Cambodia among people who inject drugs, and from 26 per cent in Bangladesh to 85 per cent in Thailand among men who have sex with men. Among surveyed female sex workers, condom use at last sex ranged from 99 per cent in Georgia in 2009 to less than 1 per cent in Afghanistan in 2011.

Programmatic coverage also varies widely across the region, and can be quite low. For example, the coverage of opioid substitution treatment ranges from less than 1 per cent of the estimated number of people who inject drugs in Pakistan to 9 per cent of people who inject drugs in China.3 No country in the region has reached the recommended level of 40 per cent coverage of opioid substitution treatment programmes, or 60 per cent coverage of needle and syringe programmes.4

In countries where protective behaviours have stagnated among key populations at higher risk, it is often because stigma and discrimination towards the key populations result in their low access to services. Policymakers need to consider new approaches to reach a greater number of people at risk, and how to rapidly scale up the availability of evidence-informed interventions (see box 2 on treatment as prevention). There is enough evidence in the region to invest more in community empowerment. Community responses can increase knowledge and reduce risk behaviours, as well as increase the demand for health services in the context of generalized and concentrated HIV epidemics among groups at higher risk of infection. Dedicated support from community members and caregivers, such as peer mentoring, is effective – more so than with “less personalized” approaches.5

The decrease in new infections among children is promising, but the room for progress is vast. In 2011, coverage of effective antiretroviral therapy (ART) regimens for preventing motherto- child transmission was 18 per cent in South and South-West Asia and in South-East Asia (excluding the Islamic Republic of Iran and Turkey), and 43 per cent in East and North-East Asia and in the Pacific. This compares to the global average of 57 per cent.6

Treatment coverage is improving.

Worldwide, 54 per cent of people eligible for ART in low-income, lower-middle-income and upper-middle-income economies were receiving it in 2011.7 This scale-up in treatment is unprecedented. In Asia and the Pacific, progress has also been significant (From 105,446 people in 2004 to 1.2 million people in 2011), although coverage trails behind the global average; only 46 per cent (1.1 million out of 2.4 million people)8 in low-income, lower-middle-income and upper-middle-income economies eligible for ART were receiving it (excluding North and Central Asia, the Islamic Republic of Iran and Turkey).

Given recent discoveries in the role of ART in HIV prevention (see box 2) and renewed country commitments to increase coverage (see box 1), the region, which is a world leader in ART production, has even more incentive to increase access to life-saving medicines.

Box B.3-1
A commitment to intensifying the response to HIV and AIDSa

In June 2011, the High-level Meeting on AIDS led to Member States reaffirming their commitment to the HIV and AIDS response by adopting a new political declaration on HIV and AIDS. This landmark declaration provided renewed and specific commitments and goals for 2015. Ten global targets were drawn from this declaration:

  1. Reduce sexual transmission by 50 per cent.
  2. Reduce HIV transmission among people who inject drugs by 50 per cent.
  3. Eliminate new infections among children and substantially reduce the number of mothers dying from AIDS-related causes.
  4. Provide antiretroviral therapy to 15 million people.
  5. Reduce the number of people living with HIV who die from tuberculosis by 50 per cent.
  6. Close the global AIDS resource gap and reach an annual global investment of $22 billion to $24 billion in low-income and middle-income countries.
  7. Eliminate gender inequalities and gender-based abuse and violence and increase the capacity of women and girls to protect themselves from HIV.
  8. Eliminate stigma and discrimination against people living with and affected by HIV by promoting laws and policies that ensure the full realization of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.
  9. Eliminate restrictions for people living with HIV on entry, stay and residence.
  10. Eliminate parallel systems for HIV-related services to strengthen the integration of the AIDS response in global health and development efforts.

The declaration also recognized that a greater effort was needed in country reporting through the Global AIDS Response Progress Reporting system. In 2012, 186 countries (96 per cent of United Nations Member States) and 50 ESCAP member Statesb (94 per cent) submitted comprehensive reports on progress in their national AIDS response, one of the highest response rates of any international health and development monitoring mechanism. In 2013, Member States will conduct midterm reviews of progress towards the 10 targets and report to the General Assembly in September.

____________________
a See the Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS: Intensifying our Efforts to Eliminate HIV and AIDS, adopted by the High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on AIDS, held at United Nations Headquarters from 8 to 10 June 2011. Available from www.unaids.org/en/media/unaids/contentassets/documents/epidemiology/2012/
gr2012/20121120_UNAIDS_Global_Report_2012_en.pdf
.
b Excludes ESCAP associate members.
Sporadic HIV testing hinders progress.

People reach HIV treatment, care and the full range of prevention options through the gateway of voluntary HIV testing. The overall goal of HIV testing is to identify as many people with HIV as possible as early in their infection as possible, and to link them successfully to care and treatment services, as well as to link those who test negative to prevention services. While access to treatment and care services has expanded in the region, access to and uptake of HIV testing and counselling among key populations at higher risk remain low.

Although men who have sex with men play a substantial role in national HIV epidemics in the region, in almost half of the countries for which data are available, less than 35 per cent were tested for HIV in 2011. HIV testing coverage of people who inject drugs ranged from 3.9 per cent in Azerbaijan to 100 per cent in Malaysia, and that of male and female sex workers from 4.1 per cent in Afghanistan to 100 per cent in Singapore. The normalization of HIV testing in routine health care, the development of community-based testing services to supplement HIV testing and counselling provided by health workers or facilities, and the creation of community demand for HIV testing can help to address this situation, and subsequently allow for better access to care, treatment and prevention services.

Funding for HIV-related services is increasingly domestic and sustainable.

Although funding for HIV-related services is progressively more domestic and sustainable, enhanced domestic and international funding focused on key populations at highest risk is, nevertheless, still critical. Globally, $24 billion will be needed by 2015 annually, of which $3 billion would be required in Asia and the Pacific.9

In 2011, for the first time, domestic public sources of funding in low-income, lower-middleincome and upper-middle-income economies in Asia and the Pacific represented about two thirds (66 per cent) of total AIDS spending, which is higher than the global average of 51 per cent.10 This is an encouraging trend in terms of funding sustainability.

Box B.3-2
Getting to zero through the strategic use of antiretroviral therapy

The global expansion of access to HIV treatment ranks among recent great achievements in public health. At the end of 2011, an estimated 8 million people in lowincome, lower-middle-income and upper-middle-income economies were receiving ART, a twentyfold increase since 2003. In Asia and the Pacific, 46 per cent of people in need in low-income, lower-middle-income and uppermiddle- income economies (excluding North and Central Asia, the Islamic Republic of Iran and Turkey) had access to life-saving medicines in 2011.a

For those who have access, ART has transformed HIV from a death sentence to a chronic manageable disease.

Population receiving antiretroviral therapy, Asian and Pacific subregions, total

Population receiving antiretroviral therapy, Asian and Pacific subregions, total

The safety and efficacy of ART have improved considerably, and a compelling body of research shows that it can significantly prolong lives and prevent new HIV infections,b particularly if treatment is started early when the immune system is still relatively strong. The strategic use of ART is crucial to combat the HIV epidemic. This will require that people with HIV be diagnosed and start ART in greater numbers and at an earlier stage. People undergoing treatment need to remain in ART programmes in order to realize the maximum, long-term benefits.c

Timely knowledge of HIV status is essential for expanding access and linking people to HIV prevention and treatment services. Countries in the region should therefore broaden the strategic options for HIV testing (self-testing, home testing, and community-based counselling and testing) and focus testing on key populations (active community recruitment), with the aim of initiating early treatment in order to harvest the preventative benefits of treatment. This needs to be done in close partnership with civil society organizations in order to ensure active recruitment and testing in communities as well as adherence to counselling and follow-up. At the same time, more resolute changes are needed in order to dismantle social and structural barriers to treatment and care for key populations, such as stigma, discrimination and punitive legal frameworks.

____________________
a Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, World AIDS Day Report 2012 (2012).
bJoint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, Together We Will End AIDS (2012).
cWorld Health Organization, The Strategic Use of Antiretrovirals to Help End the HIV Epidemic (2012).

Further reading

Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS. Treatment 2015. 2012. Available from www.aidsdatahub.org/en/component/k2/item/24468-
treatment-2015-unaids-2013
.

World Health Organization. Consolidated Guidelines on the Use of Antiretroviral Drugs for Treating and Preventing HIV Infection: Recommendations for a Public Health Approach. 2013. Available from www.aidsdatahub.org/dmdocuments/The_use_of_
ART_for_treating_and_preventing_HIV_ infection_2013.pdf
.

World Health Organization, United Nations Children’s Fund and Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS. Global Update on HIV Treatment 2013: Results, Impact and Opportunities. 2013. Available from http://apps.who.int/
iris/bitstream/10665/85326/1/9789241505734_eng.pdf
.

Technical notes

HIV defined
HIV is a virus that weakens the immune system, ultimately leading to AIDS. HIV destroys the body’s ability to fight off infection and disease, which can ultimately lead to death.

AIDS deaths (number)
The estimated number of adults and children that have died due to HIV/AIDS in a specific year. Aggregate calculations: Sum of individual country values. Missing data are not imputed.

Population living with HIV: total, adults and female adults (thousands)
Estimated number of people (adults and children) living with HIV. Estimates include all those infected with HIV, whether or not they have developed symptoms of AIDS. Adults are aged 15 years or older and children are 0-14 years. Aggregate calculations: Sum of individual country values. Missing data are not imputed.

HIV prevalence rate, individuals aged 15-49 years (percentage)
Individuals aged 15-49 years living with HIV. HIV prevalence includes all those infected with HIV, whether or not symptoms of AIDS have developed. Aggregate calculations: Weighted averages using population aged 15-49 years (WPP2012) as weight. Missing data are not imputed.

Comprehensive correct knowledge of HIV/ AIDS: females and males aged 15-24 years (percentage)
Women and men aged 15-24 years with comprehensive correct knowledge of HIV/AIDS (answered correctly all five HIV/AIDS questions). “Comprehensive correct knowledge” is defined as correctly identifying the two major ways of preventing the sexual transmission of HIV (using condoms and limiting sex to one faithful, uninfected partner), rejecting the two most common local misconceptions about HIV transmission and knowing that a healthy-looking person can transmit HIV. Aggregate calculations: Weighted averages using female/male population aged 15-24 years (WPP2012) as weight. Missing data are not imputed.

Condom use among key populations at higher risk: men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs, sex workers; total, aged less than 25 years, aged 25 years or older; females, males (percentage)
Men who have sex with men: Percentage of men who reported the use of a condom the last time they had anal sex with a male partner in the last six months. A male partner includes both regular and non-regular partners, and both paid and unpaid sex. People who inject drugs: Percentage of people who reported having injected drugs and reported the use of a condom the last time they had sexual intercourse in the last month. Sex workers: Percentage of sex workers who reported having had commercial sex in the last 12 months and reported the use of a condom with their most recent client.

Condom use at last sex among people with multiple sexual partners: females and males aged 15-19 years; females and males aged 20-24 years (percentage)
Multiple sexual partners: Percentage of women and men aged 15-19 years and 20-24 years who reported having had more than one partner in the past 12 months who used a condom during their last sexual intercourse.

HIV prevalence among populations at higher risk: total, aged 15-49 years, aged less than 25 years, aged 25 years or older; females and males (percentage)
Men who have sex with men: Percentage of men living with HIV who have sex with men. This indicator is calculated using data from HIV tests conducted among respondents in the primary sentinel site or sites. People who inject drugs: Percentage of people who inject drugs who are living with HIV. This indicator is calculated using data from HIV tests conducted among respondents in the primary sentinel site or sites or in the context of a surveillance survey. Sex workers: Percentage of sex workers aged 25 years or older who are living with HIV. This indicator is calculated using data from HIV tests conducted among respondents in the primary sentinel site or sites.

HIV testing among populations at higher risk: total, aged less than 25 years, aged 25 years or older; females and males (percentage)
Men who have sex with men:
Percentage of men who have sex with men who have received an HIV test in the past 12 months and know their results. People who inject drugs: Percentage of people who inject drugs who received an HIV test in the past 12 months and know their results. Sex workers: Percentage of sex workers who have received an HIV test in the past 12 months and know their results.

HIV treatment: ART (percentage of eligible adults and children)
Percentage of eligible adults and children currently receiving ART.

Population receiving ART: total population (number)
Population (adults and children) currently receiving ART according to nationally approved treatment protocols (or Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS standards). Aggregate calculations: Sum of individual country values. Missing data are not imputed.

Estimated new HIV infections (all ages)
The number of new HIV infections in a population during a certain time period. Aggregate calculations: Sum of individual country values. Missing data are not imputed.

Source

Source of HIV data: Data tables provided by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS. Data for India on AIDS deaths and population living with HIV are obtained from the National Institute of Medical Statistics and National AIDS Control Organization, Technical Report: India HIV Estimates 2012. Data obtained: April and May 2013.

____________________
1 Pakistan, National AIDS Control Program, HIV Second Generation Surveillance in Pakistan: National Report Round IV 2011 (2011).
2 Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, World AIDS Day Report 2012 (2012).
3 A. Bergenstrom, V. Andreeva and A. Reddy, “Overview of epidemiology of injection drug use and HIV in Asia”, poster presentation No. 642 at the International Harm Reduction Conference 2013, Vilnius, 9-12 June 2013.
4 World Health Organization, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and United Nations Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS, Technical Guide for Countries to Set Targets for Universal Access to HIV Prevention, Treatment and Care for Injecting Drug Users: 2012 Revision (World Health Organization, 2012).
5 Rosalla Rodriguez Garcia and others, Investing in Communities Achieves Results: Findings from an Evaluation of Community Responses to HIV and AIDS (World Bank, 2013).
6 Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, “Regional fact sheet 2012: Asia and the Pacific.”
7 Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, Global Report: UNAIDS Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic 2012 (2012).
8 Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, World AIDS Day Report 2012 (2012).
9 Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, Meeting the Investment Challenge: Tipping the Dependency Balance (2012).
10 Analysis done by HIV and AIDS Data Hub for Asia and the Pacific, based on Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, Global Report: UNAIDS Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic 2012 (2012). Available from www.aidsdatahub.org/en/regional-profiles/economics-of-aids/item/5941-hiv-expenditure-hiv-and-aids-data-hub-for-asia-pacific-2011.
 
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