An estimated 50 million women in Asia, who are either married or in long-term relationships with men who engage in high-risk sexual behaviours, are at risk of becoming infected with HIV from their partners, according to a report published by the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).
According to the agency, the HIV epidemics in Asia vary between countries in the region, but are fuelled by unprotected paid sex, the sharing of contaminated injecting equipment by injecting drug users, and unprotected sex among men who have sex with men.
Men who buy sex constitute the largest infected population group - and most of them are either married or will get married.
UNAIDS estimated that more than 90 per cent of the 1.7 million women living with HIV in Asia became infected from their husbands or partners while in long-term relationships. In Cambodia, India and Thailand, the largest number of new HIV infections occur among married women.
To prevent HIV transmission among intimate partner relationships, the report outlines four key recommendations:
- HIV prevention interventions must be scaled-up for men who have sex with men, injecting drug users, and clients of female sex workers.
- Structural interventions should be initiated to address the needs of vulnerable women and their male sexual partners. This includes expanding reproductive health programmes to include services for male sexual health.
- HIV prevention interventions among mobile populations and migrants must be scaled-up and include components to protect intimate partners.
- Operational research must be conducted to obtain a better understanding of the dynamics of HIV transmission among intimate partners.
The report can be accessed at: