The Chinese government has almost doubled its budget allocation for HIV prevention over last year, increasing its funding to $185 million annually in 2006 and 2007, up from $98.7 million. The new figure constitutes a 1,500% increase since 2001, when the country allocated $12.3 million. (China Daily, 28/12/05)
This sharp increase in prevention funding reflects a growing concern about the epidemic within China. In early December, the World Health Organization charged that without a more aggressive effort to halt the spread of HIV, as many as 10 million Chinese could contract the virus by 2010. China's health minister, Gao Qiang, warned that the country could face significant social and economic instability if it is unable to contain the epidemic and pledged to keep the HIV-positive population under 1.5 million during the next five years. (Reuters, 30/11/05)
Papua New Guinea
Threatened by one of the highest rates of HIV prevalence in Asia, the government of Papua New Guinea has launched a UNICEF/UNAIDS program to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS among the island nation's children. The Unite for Children, Unite Against AIDS campaign hopes to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS among children in a country where 2 percent of the population is infected with HIV, including 11,000 children—9 percent of all infected children in the Asia-Pacific region. (The Body.com 15/11/05) The initiative will involve prevention efforts among youths, a campaign to stop mother-to-child transmission, treatment for infected children, and care for AIDS orphans. (Reuters 4/11/05)
Health officials in Singapore have instituted a policy of hand-delivering letters informing women if their husbands have tested positive for HIV. According to Health Minister Dr. Balaji Sadasivan, over the last five months, 41 women were told that their partners were infected and were encouraged to be tested themselves. Despite Singapore's low prevalence rate of 0.02 percent and the virus's concentration among men, who account for 90 percent of the country's infections, Dr. Balaji expressed concern over the vulnerability of women. "Marriage and the women's own fidelity are not enough to protect them against HIV infection," he asserted. "Most have been infected despite staying faithful to their partner." (Dr. Balaji Sadasivan, 5/12/05, www.moh.gov.sg/corp/)
Greater access to antiretroviral drugs in Thailand has reduced the number of AIDS deaths in 2005 by two-thirds compared to the previous year, the Thai Public Health Ministry has announced. In addition, the number of Thai citizens who developed AIDS fell last year by almost a third over 2004, and the number of reported new cases of HIV declined by around 10 percent to 18,000.
According to figures released by the Thai Disease Control Department, HIV/AIDS accounted for 1,640 deaths in 2005, a dramatic drop from 5,020 in 2004. Likewise, 8,681 cases of HIV developed into AIDS in 2005, compared with 13,364 the year before. (The Nation, 3/1/06)
Despite the striking success of Thailand's efforts to slow the spread of HIV/AIDS, the government has acknowledged that certain groups, particularly teenagers and men who have sex with men, are increasingly vulnerable to HIV infection. In response, the government has announced plans to provide 24 million condoms to young people, sex workers, and migrant laborers, as well as those already infected with the virus. (Bangkok Post 30/11/05)