Feature story

ICAAP 2011 closes in Busan

30 August 2011

Credit: UNAIDS/Kim Doo Ho

Serving its theme "Different Voices, United Action", the 10th International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific (ICAAP) brought together voices and perspectives of more than 2 000 delegates from 65 countries towards the development of greater joint action for AIDS.

The biennial conference that took place in Busan, Republic of Korea, ended on 30 August after five days of symposia, skills-building workshops and satellite meetings – 131 sessions took place in total. Discussions entered on a number of central themes including: the evolving epidemiology of HIV in Asia and the Pacific; advances in basic and clinical services, meeting the challenges of reaching universal access, building and supporting leaders and advocated, engaging communities for effective responses and overcoming human rights, legal and policy barriers.

Recalling a number of key and emerging issues covered during the Congress, such as pervading stigma and discrimination in the region, access to affordable treatment and hepatitis C-HIV co-infection, Geoffrey Manthey of the UNAIDS Regional Support Team for Asia and the Pacific said, “These issues are real and need our immediate action. Although progress has been made, HIV is still a significant challenge for the region. Not only do we need measurable progress by the next ICAAP, we need to see a full commitment to non-discrimination against people living with and affected by HIV.”

The objectives of ICAAP10 were to create an opportunity to enhance AIDS responses to at the local, regional and global levels. The conference was cosponsored by the AIDS Society of Asia and the Pacific (ASAP) and UNAIDS.

Thanking participants for their participation, Local Organizing Committee co-chair, Chul-soo Kim encouraged everyone to work towards ‘Getting to Zero’, “ Let’s work even more, for a world free of HIV!” 

ICAAP is the second largest forum for HIV in the world and encourages the release and discussion of scientific, programmatic and policy developments in the global response to AIDS. It offers a platform where different voices from diverse counterparts across the Asia and the Pacific region can assemble to deliver a united action.

Dr Subhasree Sai Raghavan of the International AIDS Society summed up some of the challenges that were highlighted during the congress, including TB-HIV and the implementation of new PMTCT guidelines, saying that “our region needs to do better — we have no excuse.” 

All the speakers at the closing ceremony welcomed the fact that young people, especially from key populations at higher risk, were present in significant numbers — at least 95 delegates were under 25, as were most of the many Korean volunteers — and were taking an increasing leadership role through organizations such as YouthLEAD and Youth Voices Count, as well as through new social media initiatives.

HIV figures in Asia and the Pacific

In 2009, an estimated 4.9 million people in Asia were living with HIV, including 360 000 who became newly infected that year. The overall trends in this region hide important variation in the epidemics, both between and within countries. In many countries in the region, the epidemic is concentrated in a relatively small number of provinces. Injecting drug users, men who have sex with men, sex workers and their clients and transgender people have accounted for most of the new infections.

The HIV epidemic in the Pacific region is small, but the number of people living with HIV in this region nearly doubled between 2001 and 2009 — from 28 000 to 57 000. However, the number of people newly infected with HIV has begun to decline from 4700 in 2001 to 4500 in 2009. The HIV epidemics in the region are mainly driven by sexual transmission.