JAKARTA (Feb 17) – How can the spread of HIV/AIDS in Southeast Asia be curbed and managed by governments and agencies faced with this problem that affects the social stability and economic growth of a country?

Participants at  the ASEAN Cooperation Forum on HIV/AIDS to be held in Bangkok from February 19-20 hope to develop a coordinated strategy to address this issue by establishing partnerships with international and non-governmental agencies for technical support and finding donors to implement the ASEAN Work Programme on HIV/AIDS.

The ASEAN Task Force on AIDS, the ASEAN Secretariat and UNAIDS will participate in this event, which will look at the integration of HIV/AIDS in the development agenda and ways to control the spread of this disease especially through a mobile population comprising regional travelers and migrant workers.

The forum delegates will also discuss methods to prevent HIV transmission and the provision of care, treatment and support for HIV/AIDS patients. Efforts to reduce the socio-economic impact of this disease on society will also be addressed.

ASEAN Secretariat’s Assistant Director for Social Development, Cho Kah Sin, expressed hope that more can be achieved through a joint regional action by ASEAN countries facing the issue of HIV/AIDS, which has been a growing transnational problem.

“It’s important to have regional action to support national programmes to fight this health and social threat,” said Mr. Cho.

“The HIV/AIDS epidemic involves many common issues which ASEAN countries cannot effectively deal with alone. All the Southeast Asian nations working together willl add value to what any country can do on its own particularly on issues like addressing disease prevention among migrant workers and improving access to AIDS medicines.”.

But Mr. Cho pointed out that funding for such projects are crucial to the level of success that can be attained in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

“ASEAN needs resources to pursue this joint and cooperative work, while respective countries also require funding for their national efforts on HIV/AIDS,” said Mr. Cho.

“We are also very interested in collaborating with donor countries and international agencies to build up our capacity to do much more.”