UN to provide support for independent commission on AIDS in Asia and

The United Nations Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) has announced that it will provide logistical support to a new body that will study the spread and impact of the virus and the disease in Asia and the Pacific with a view to mobilizing an adequate response for the region, where over 8 million people live with HIV.Launched on Saturday in New Delhi, the independent Commission on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific, consists of 10 leading economists, scientists, civil society representatives and policy-makers from across the region.Over a period of 18 months, the Commission will conduct an objective analysis of the impact and developmental consequences of the AIDS epidemic in the region, and what this might mean to the socio-economic environment in the medium and long term, the agency said.At the end of 2005, there were an estimated 8.3 million persons living with HIV in Asia and the Pacific and the numbers are growing rapidly. Over half a million people died of AIDS last year alone, according to UNAIDS, which will provide the Commission with logistical support in its initial months and has contributed the funding towards its work. The Commission is expected to study the impact of AIDS on human resources, labor productivity, poverty reduction, social stability and household savings. It will also examine the spread of the virus in coming years, and how it could be reduced by raising national and international efforts.The Commission’s findings will be summarized in a report with recommendations for a set of measures designed to mobilize leaders to adequately respond to the epidemic in the region.“We are confident this Commission will make a real difference and move the agenda forward for the Asia-Pacific region response to HIV and AIDS,” said Commission Secretary JVR Prasada Rao, who is the Director of the UNAIDS Regional Support Team for Asia and the Pacific.

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