Asia has always been looked at by outsiders as the land of mystic magic, serine breath taking beauty, and the harmonious central key to getting in touch with the spiritual side of humanity. However there is more to this large sub-continent then what meets the eye at first glance.
The AIDS virus has been silently threatening all of Asia. Its spread is rapid and deadly. One in four new infections occur in Asia every day. 1,500 persons effected with the virus die here every day. What is extremely alarming is that the disease has already spread into several provinces of the world's most populated country - China. India too is not far behind; it's name and presently the top in the list of Asia's affected countries.
The UN estimates that 8.2 million people are infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in Asia. And about 5.1 million of them are from India. The Chinese government in a report said that there are as many as 840,000 patients in China suffering from the infection. These figures are staggering when we look at them worldwide. Approximately 39 million people have HIV/AIDS, including 25 million in sub-Saharan Africa.
In Asia, the AIDS epidemic is still mainly affecting the vulnerable groups such as injecting drug users, the sex workers and the homosexuals. However, it is now slowly finding its way into the general population.
When looking at the larger picture it is clear that the failure to fight the AIDS virus will definitely affect the Asian economy on a large scale. The UN has warned that by 2010, 12 million people are likely to be infected with HIV in Asia alone and it is estimated that a loss of $29 billion would have to be faced by the Asian economies.
It is high time the governing bodies of the Asian countries take strong steps to fight the infection, which may wipe out a large chunk of their population. The Governments are required to face up and deal with the controversial topics of having sex workers, drug users and homosexuals as part of their population. Not looking or dealing with the problem will not make it go away, but make it escalade into something which will finally become uncontrollable.
The Asian continent has a very large uneducated population, which are still not aware of what AIDS, how it spread and what can be done to stop it from spreading. However with the help of government programs, strong campaigns and reaching out to the rural districts on scales that only the government bodies can succeed in doing, it is possible to tackle this epidemic. Its high time, we Asians look at giving a better Asia to our children. And perhaps the time is now that we as individual educate our selves first on the AIDS virus and not think it can't happen to us.