A leading American expert on infectious diseases says China and India - the world's two most populous countries - are facing a potential Aids disaster.
China is promoting safe sex
Speaking at a conference in Singapore, the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Julie Gerberding, said the Aids situation there was akin to what Africa experienced a decade ago.
She also named Cambodia as another Asian country facing an Aids crisis. She said the Aids virus was spreading deeper into these parts of Asia because they had a weak healthcare system.
We are truly globalised and if one person in a country is
vulnerable, every one is vulnerable
China says it has at least a million people with Aids, but the UN estimates this could reach 10 million by the end of the decade.
Shared use of intravenous needles by drug users and infection through contaminated blood donations account for about three-quarters of current cases in China.
Some estimates suggest India already has 4 million people infected with HIV - and experts predict this could rise to 25 million by 2010.
And in Cambodia, an estimated 158,000 people - or 2.6% of the adult population - are HIV positive.
Public health struggling
Dr Gerberding said: "In some countries, for example, Cambodia, or from what we believe in China and India, the public health measures have yet to take hold and the epidemic really is in that phase of scaling up very, very quickly.
"If we don't intervene in those environments we will have a
catastrophe of a very, very profound increase in the number of cases.
"We are truly globalised and if one person in a country is
vulnerable, every one is vulnerable. If one country is vulnerable then the world is vulnerable."
Dr Gerberding is meeting Asian health officials to
discuss technical support in detecting emerging infectious
disease in the aftermath of the Sars outbreak.
Jack Chow, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Health and Science, who is travelling with Dr Gerberding, warned there could be another 80 million cases of HIV-AIDS by the end of the decade in China, India, Russia, Ethiopia and Nigeria alone.
UNAIDS says 42 million people are infected with HIV worldwide - 29.4 million of them in Africa. It has killed 25 million worldwide.
However, the UN forecasts that if the pandemic continues at its current pace 70 million people will have died by 2020.