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Message-ID: <199807170939.FAA02503@access2.digex.net>
Date: Fri, 17 Jul 1998 05:39:11 -0400
Reply-To: Southeast Asia Discussion List <SEASIA-L@LIST.MSU.EDU>
Sender: Southeast Asia Discussion List <SEASIA-L@LIST.MSU.EDU>
From: Alex G Bardsley <bardsley@ACCESS.DIGEX.NET>
Subject: Fwd: AIDS gains foothold in poorest nations (HKStandard)

X-URL: http://www.hkstandard.com/online/news/001/asia/news004.htm

AIDS gains foothold in poorest nations

APF, in Hong Kong Standard
17 July 1998

BANGKOK: AIDS is rapidly spreading through Asia's poorest countries on the back of ignorance, the burgeoning heroin trade and government inaction, a leading expert on the epidemic has warned.

The disease was rampant in Myanmar and Cambodia and crossing into Chinese and Indian border areas which had previously been largely spared, HIV-AIDS specialist Chris Beyrer said.

"It is really clear this epidemic is only just getting going," Mr Beyrer said.

"Myanmar and Cambodia are just unable to cope with the AIDS epidemic. These are poor countries, they are chaotic countries," he added, citing civil unrest, poverty and the lack of established public health-care systems as obstacles to combating the epidemic.

Years of instability in Cambodia had left the country with a shortage of doctors, journalists and other professionals whose work could help fight the epidemic, while Myanmar was burdened with "a tremendous domestic heroin-use problem".

Recent forecasts have suggested the number of Cambodians infected with the human immuno-deficiency virus (HIV) which leads to the fatal acquired immuno-deficiency syndrome (AIDS) could reach one million in a population of just 10 million by 2000.

Transmission there was largely via heterosexual contact, particularly through the sex industry.

Mr Beyrer, based at Johns Hopkins University in the United States and who spent five years on AIDS projects in northern Thailand, said the United Nations estimated there were 400,000 to 500,000 infections in Myanmar.

Although Thailand was "an isolated success story" in its handling of the epidemic, the situation was set to further deteriorate in neighbouring countries.

"The very important first thing is to clean up blood supply," he added.


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