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THE WORLD

Indifference to the Epidemic in Asia Criticized

July 09, 2002|From Times Wire Services

BARCELONA, Spain — U.N. officials and AIDS activists denounced Asian leaders Monday for remaining silent in the face of concern that Asia might overtake Africa as the continent hit hardest by the disease.

"The silence about the epidemic in Asia is even more deafening than elsewhere," Hakan Bjorkman, an advisor on AIDS to the U.N. Development Program, said at the 14th International AIDS Conference in Barcelona.

The news about China and India was particularly distressing, researchers said. Chinese know very little about AIDS, with nearly three-quarters of the population unaware that a virus causes the disease or unable to describe how to avoid becoming infected, researchers said. About one in six has never heard of the disease.

In India, the number of HIV infections has increased tenfold in a decade, but almost no one is taking life-sustaining antiretroviral therapy, even though Indian manufacturers of generic drugs are rapidly becoming the suppliers of choice to the developing world.

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