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Sunday, 5 March, 2000, 22:34 GMT
Aids campaign targets Asian men
Aids baby
An orphan of the Aids epidemic in a Phnom Penh rescue centre
A new phase of the United Nations' worldwide campaign to prevent the spread of the HIV virus and Aids is being launched in Delhi on Monday.

Aids Special Report
Its aim is to persuade men to take more responsibility for their part in spreading the Aids epidemic.

UN officials say that in many countries, men are more open to HIV infection because of certain cultural beliefs and behaviour. The campaign aims to persuade them to confront these attitudes.

The UN points out that, with a population of nearly 3.5 billion, the Asia Pacific region has the potential to greatly influence the degree to which the deadly virus spreads.

Latest figures indicate that the Asian region contains about 20% of the world's estimated HIV infections.

HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus, is the infection which often leads to Aids. People with HIV can look and feel well but, as the virus attacks the immune system, an infected person will be open to a large number of illnesses. This means there are a wide variety of symptoms.

Alarming

Aids is diagnosed when a person has developed one of several diseases associated with the virus, as well as underlying immune problems.

In its latest initiative, the UN is highlighting some particularly alarming trends.

India it says, has the highest number of HIV infections in the world. It is estimated that 3.7 million Indians have HIV or Aids. In some states, HIV has made significant inroads into the urban population and, among pregnant women, more than one in 50 has tested HIV positive.


The 'Aids demon' is paraded around Bombay
In China, the UN says the potential for spreading the HIV virus beyond the drug-injecting population is high because people are on the move much more today, and because the sex industry is being fuelled by a disparity in incomes.

The UN says that, as a result of a committed and effective HIV prevention strategy, Thailand appears to have seen its infection levels peak and they are now tending to stabilise.

But neighbouring Cambodia continues to suffer one of Asia's highest levels of infection.

Across the world, it is women, the young and those living in poverty who are particularly vulnerable to infection and the impact of Aids.

But the UN says what is less well understood is that certain cultural beliefs, attitudes and behaviour make men more open to HIV infection - and that is why men are being targeted in the new campaign.
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See also:

04 Nov 99 |  Aids
Aids up close
01 Dec 99 |  World
UN highlights Aids orphans
20 Feb 00 |  Health
Gene therapy 'advance' for Aids
05 Mar 00 |  Middle East
Singer's death highlights Aids taboo
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