AIDS out of control in Indonesia

Date: Wednesday, 29-Nov-2006

The World Health Organization (WHO) is concerned about the AIDS situation in Indonesia and says it is out of control there.

The warning comes as the Indonesian government has predicted that up to a million people may be infected by 2010.

The WHO is also concerned about the increasing number of infections among intravenous drug users, sex workers, and heterosexuals in the eastern province of Papua.

Georg Petersen, the WHO's country representative, says when compared to neighbours Thailand and Cambodia, where rates of infection appear to be stabilizing, Indonesia shows a trend that it is still not under control.

As a response to concerns voiced earlier, the Indonesian government established a National AIDS Commission in July that apparently reports directly to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

The aim of the AIDS Commission is to "prevent having one million infected people by 2010," says secretary Nafsiah Ben Mboi.

The world's 4th most populous nation already has an estimated 169,000 to 216,000 infected with HIV/AIDS in a nation of 220 million.

The Health Ministry has projected there will be half a million infected Indonesians by 2010 which could reach 1 million unless there is significant intervention.

Raising public awareness is the next big challenge, as regardless of the risks many Indonesians still engage in unsafe sex and drug users share needles because of limited or no access to clean syringes.

According to the Health Ministry more than half of the country's AIDS cases are among intravenous drugs users, while a third have contracted it through heterosexual sexual contact.

 
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