Regional health meeting concludes in Laos
Asia Health Experts to Step Up Anti-AIDS Program for Sex
Agence France Presse (08.21.03)::Ben Rowse
At the end of a four-day meeting in the Laotian capital
health experts agreed to expand the "100 percent condom
use program." The
program, promoted across the region by the World Health
involves distributing condoms to sex workers, teaching them
sex, and enlisting the support of the police.
"There are few success stories in AIDS. This is one of
them," said Dr.
Bernard Fabre-Teste, head of the HIV and sexually transmitted
unit at WHO's Western Pacific Regional Office in Manila. Pilot
begun in several countries over the last few years have
boosted condom use
and reduced new HIV infections, according to WHO.
Prostitution is a major force driving the AIDS epidemic in
Asia. "The most
effective and responsible public health measures against
HIV/AIDS in Asia
need to focus on high-risk behaviors, which is commercial sex
injecting drug use," said Fabre- Teste.
WHO pointed out that the implementation of the "100
percent condom use
program" has led to more than an 80 percent decline in
new HIV infections
in Thailand and Cambodia. The UN agency said the continuation
program was necessary to control the spread of the virus in
potential AIDS tinderbox with relatively high HIV rates and a
Conference participants stressed that political and financial
essential for the success of the program. "There has been
but we still have many hurdles to cross to expand the
Source: CDC HIV/STD/TB Prevention News Update 08/21/03
WHO Lauds Myanmar's Progress in Promoting Condom Use
Associated Press, August 21, 2003
VIENTIANE, Laos (AP)--Myanmar, a conservative country that
acknowledge having prostitution just two years ago, has made
in promoting condom use to fight the spread of AIDS, said
"This is an amazing shift in Myanmar's policy," WHO
Balasegaram said Thursday at the end of a regional conference
the U.N. organization to promote condom use.
"Only three weeks ago the word 'condom' was used for the
first time in the
national press, in an article from the New Light of
Myanmar," she said
referring to one of the country's state-owned newspapers.
At the conference, Myanmar health official Dr. Tun Myint said
government was now distributing condoms through a national
funded by a US$21 million Trust Fund for HIV-AIDS from the
The conference, organized to promote the strategy of "100
use in the sex industry, was attended by representatives of
Pacific region countries: Cambodia, China, Mongolia, Vietnam,
Laos and the
Myanmar and Thailand - which pioneered the "100
percent" strategy in
1991-92 - attended as observers. The 100 percent strategy
seeks to ensure
that condoms are used in every sexual transaction between a
sex worker and
Tun Myint, assistant director of AIDS and Sexually Transmitted
Control in Myanmar's Department of Health, said an estimated
average of 20
to 50 female sex workers work in each of Myanmar's district
In late 2000, a "100 percent" condom use program was
begun on a pilot
basis in four district capitals, and Tun Myint said 60
are being targeted by the end of 2003.
The participation of a representative from Myanmar was a
highlight of the
four-day conference, said Balasegaram.
Equally encouraging was the presence of Myanmar Cabinet
ministers at an
international meeting on HIV transmission through drug use
held in Yangon
last week, she said.
Tun Myint said Myanmar had identified 45,968 people with HIV -
that causes AIDS - by March 2003.
WHO estimates are significantly higher.
By the end of 2001, an estimated 180,000 to 400,000
living with HIV/AIDS, according to its Epidemiological Fact
HIV/AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections. "AIDS
deaths will constitute
a major, if not the major, cause of death in young adults
WHO officials nevertheless view Myanmar's example positively.
"It is difficult to talk about sex in Asia, but quiet
work is now breaking
taboos," said Balasegaram.
Cross-posted from Healthgap List Mon, 25 Aug 2003