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DECEMBER 8 , 2000 VOL. 26 NO. 46 | SEARCH ASIAWEEK

The AIDS Advance INDIA THAILAND
AIDS is on the march. Around 6.5 million Asians were HIV-positive at the end of last year, with more than 3.1 million already dead of AIDS. The U.N. puts the annual infection rate at about 120,000 -- a figure it admits is probably underestimated. Ranked by the number of people carrying the virus, here's how Asian countries fare: Has the world's highest number of infections. One in 50 pregnant women in urban areas tests positive, while epidemic levels are reported among northern drug users. Infected 3,700,000
No. of orphans: 557,570 Deaths in 1999: 310,000
The Crisis dented government programs on education and prevention. Infection rates that leveled off are now rising. Overall life expectancy has dropped by two years.
Infected 755,000
No. of orphans: 75,000 Deaths in 1999: 66,000
MYANMAR CHINA CAMBODIA
Serious levels of infection -- some say higher than Thailand's. An outpouring of migrant labor to Thailand, China and Bangladesh spreads the scourge.
Infected 530,000
No. of orphans: 43,000
Deaths in 1999: 48,000
Needle-sharing causes most new infections, though there is concern about 4 million sex workers. An increasingly mobile population is expected to boost the count.
Infected 500,000
No. of orphans: 4,500 Deaths in 1999: 17,000
Has Asia's highest levels of HIVinfection, which is well established in all provinces. Private and public sectors have responded well, but much more needs to be done.
Infected 220,000
No. of orphans: 13,000 Deaths in 1999: 14,000
VIETNAM PAKISTAN INDONESIA
The government is trying, but is ill-prepared for an epidemic among drugs-users in the north. Infections among sex workers increased five-fold in four years to 1998.
Infected 100,000
No. of orphans: 3,200
Deaths in 1999: 2,500
AIDS education is high among sex workers, but the country's 4 million drug addicts are not as well informed. Cheap heroin streams across the Afghan border.
Infected 74,000
No. of orphans: 7,900 Deaths in 1999: 6,500
Drug use has boomed in the past two years, but few intervention programs are in place. By the end of 2001, about 1 million injectors could be infected.
Infected 52,000
No. of orphans: 2,000 Deaths in 1999: 3,100
MALAYSIA PHILIPPINES BANGLADESH
Infection rates are spreading slowly. Most new sufferers come from the ranks of drug users in the north and men who visit sex workers across the Thai border.
Infected 49,000
No. of orphans: 680
Deaths in 1999: 1,900
The HIV infection rate remains relatively low for a country with a burgeoning sex industry. Most cases reported to authorities have been sexually transmitted. Infected 28,000
No. of orphans: 1,500 Deaths in 1999: 1,200
Half of all sex workers are infected with syphilis, meaning condoms aren't being used. About 25,000 drug-takers regularly share needles. Observers fear an epidemic.
Infected 13,000
No. of orphans: 610 Deaths in 1999: 1,000
JAPAN SRILANKA SINGAPORE
Immigrant sex workers buck the country's low infection rate. But the country has the poorest public awareness of HIV and AIDS among industrialized nations.
Infected 10,000
No. of orphans: N/A
Deaths in 1999: 150
Infection rates are low, though cases are turning up even in the war-torn north. At present, AIDS is a four-letter word that is not discussed in many schools.
Infected 7,500
No. of orphans: 600 Deaths in 1999: 490
Due to social stigma, victims usually go overseas for treatment. The sex industry is blamed for most cases. Prevention campaigns focus on monogamy and fidelity.
Infected 4,000
No. of orphans: 120 Deaths in 1999: 210
SOUTH KOREA HONGKONG LAOS
More than 90% of the small number of HIV cases have resulted from sexual transmission. Reality check:13% of infections have occurred among females.
Infected 3,800
No. of orphans: less than 100
Deaths in 1999: 180
A low count so far, but increasing cross-border traffic into southern China, which has epidemic levels of the virus, is beginning to cause official concern. Infected 2,500
No. of orphans: N/A Deaths in 1999: 16
A culture that discourages promiscuity and drug use helps maintain the lowest HIV rate in the region. Migrant labor and new road links with neighbors are major worries.
Infected 1,400
No. of orphans: 280 Deaths in 1999: 130

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