Five Myths about the HIV Epidemic in Asia
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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It is widely recognised that the huge population sizes of many Asian countries mean that although national HIV prevalence levels are still very low, very large absolute numbers of people are being infected each year with HIV . Urgent responses are required; the effective responses by countries such as Thailand and Cambodia have shown how much can be done. As implementers who have worked with HIV/AIDS programmes in several countries in the region, we recognise the public health and welfare costs of the epidemic in Asia, and we respond to the need to “act now”. We are concerned, however, about a number of misinformed beliefs, or myths, about the epidemic—myths that are widely circulating in Asia, disseminated in both public and professional discourse, and often dominating policy and political debate. We believe that these myths, if allowed to underpin and influence policy and programming and guide immediate action, have the potential to seriously jeopardise exactly the kind of focused, coherent, evidence-based programme being called for in Asia and the Pacific. In this Essay, we set out five myths that are commonly held with regard to HIV in Asia. We also suggest areas of policy that require greater clarity.