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Regional Response

Situation by region
Regional initiatives
Country Technical Services Teams
Culture and religions

"A lot more needs to be done and fast. The focus in the region needs to shift from statements of what actions are being taken to what results are being achieved. Smallscale successes against HIV/AIDS in South Asia exist. Results on a large scale are needed."

— UNAIDS Issues Paper 1, February 2003

Situation by region

Regional initiatives link UNFPA with many valued partners, multiplying expertise gained by the Fund over three decades addressing culturally and politically sensitive issues of sexual and reproductive health.

In Asia and the Pacific, many countries are faced with the threat of major and widespread epidemics. The vast size of the population in countries such as India and China means that large numbers of people are infected even when national figures show comparatively low HIV prevalence. An estimated 7.2 million people are now living with HIV/AIDS in Asia and the Pacific, including 4 million in India and 1 million in China, where the epidemic shows no signs of abating. High HIV infection rates are being recorded among specific population groups (injecting drug users, sex workers, and men who have sex with men) in countries throughout the region.

The worst of the epidemic’s impact on societies in sub-Saharan Africa will be felt in the course of the next decade and beyond. In this region with the world’s highest infection rates, 29.4 million people were living with HIV/AIDS in 2002. Africa is home to 70 per cent of adults and 80 per cent of children living with HIV/AIDS. Yet, positive trends seem to be taking hold among younger people in a number of countries, raising hopes that the epidemic could be brought under control. All UNFPA-supported programmes in the 45 countries of sub-Saharan Africa have integrated HIV/AIDS interventions.

  • In four Southern African countries, national adult HIV prevalence has risen higher than thought possible: Botswana (38.8 per cent), Lesotho (31 per cent), Swaziland (33.4 per cent) and Zimbabwe (33.7 per cent).

The world’s fastest-growing epidemic continues in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, with 1.2 million people living with HIV/AIDS in 2002. Infection is expanding rapidly in the Baltic States, the Russian Federation and several Central Asian republics, fuelled by high rates of injecting drug use among young people and high levels of sexually transmitted infections.

Several countries in North Africa and the Middle East have introduced better surveillance systems but lingering denial and inadequate data make it difficult to assess the impact of the epidemic. The number of people living with HIV/AIDS was estimated at 550,000 in 2002. While HIV prevalence continues to be low in most countries in the region, danger signs are found in high rates of sexually transmitted infections and high-risk behaviours of injecting drug users—with the likelihood that HIV/AIDS will spread to the wider population unless immediate action is taken.

Latin America and the Caribbean is the second-most affected region in the world, with adult HIV prevalence rates in some countries surpassed only by sub-Saharan Africa. Haiti remains the worst affected (with an estimated national adult HIV prevalence of over 6 per cent) along with the Bahamas (where prevalence is 3.5 per cent). There were 1.9 million people living with HIV/AIDS in the region in 2002. Marginalized populations seem to be paying a disproportionately high toll, and there is a danger that well-established epidemics could spread more quickly and more widely in the absence of an intensified response.

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