The World Health Organisation (WHO) warned Tuesday that a sharp rise in HIV/AIDS infections was looming among Asia's homosexual men unless they were given better access to health services.
"The proportion of HIV infections being transmitted among men who have sex with men is larger and more significant than we had originally believed," said Massimo Ghidinelli, the WHO's adviser on HIV/AIDS in the Western Pacific, in a statement.
"Action needs to be taken now if a major increase in HIV/AIDS cases is to be averted" in the region, he said.
"We need to target HIV prevention strategies, together with better access to health services, for men who have sex with men."
The homosexual transmission of HIV/AIDS would be discussed by specialists from government and non-government organisations from across the region at a three-day Hong Kong conference starting Wednesday, the WHO said.
A December 2007 review found that in Cambodia and Vietnam, homosexual men were more likely to contract HIV compared with the general population, while in China the risk for homosexual men was 45 times higher than for men in general.
According to the WHO, Asia has the world's largest number of "men having sex with men," estimated at 10 million.
Despite this, a report released by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) found that targeted prevention reached only one percent of the male homosexual and transgender population.
The WHO attributed this low number "to the stigma and discrimination associated with male-to-male sex... and to breaches of human rights, including the right to better health," Ghidinelli said.
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