HIV infection rates may be stabilising in sub-Saharan Africa, but they are growing in Eastern Europe and Asia, the Red Cross said Friday as it warned against complacency over the disease.
"If there is something more deadly than HIV, it is complacency about HIV," said Mukesh Kapila, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies' Special Representative for HIV.
"Even if infection rates are stabilising in parts of sub-Saharan Africa, HIV is still growing elsewhere with many people unaware of the dangers, especially in eastern Europe and in parts of Asia," he added on this year's World AIDS Day.
The IFRC said it was boosting its HIV programmes particularly in eastern Europe, Asia and the Americas, where many remained unaware of the disease's threat.
Bernard Gardiner, who heads the IFRC's HIV Global Programme said: "The persistence of stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV is unacceptable to any community rising to the challenge of HIV."
Research supported by the UN's anti-AIDS programme published in September found that there was little awareness about the disease in China, and that there was serious stigmatisation of people living with HIV.
China has about 700,000 HIV/AIDS carriers, with an estimated 50,000 people infected in 2007, according to UNAIDS.