Children, HIV and AIDS: Regional snapshot - East Asia and the Pacific (December 2018)
HIV incidence in East Asia and the Pacific remains highest among key populations, and the legal, social and cultural barriers they face contribute to the region’s slow progress in improving HIV responses among children, adolescents and pregnant and breastfeeding women. Alongside successes, including the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis in Malaysia and Thailand, prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) programmes remain sub-optimal in some areas. For example, early infant diagnosis (EID) coverage was at 28 per cent in 2017, the same rate as in 2013, and access to HIV treatment for children aged 0–14 years has barely changed.
The epidemic in East Asia and the Pacific points to the need for more extensive and targeted testing and prevention efforts. For PMTCT programmes, the emphasis is on strengthening maternal and child health platforms and linking communities with facilities, to reach vulnerable women with access to antenatal care and PMTCT services and retain them in care. The prevention needs of adolescent boys and young men from key population groups also deserve extra attention. The 31 per cent decline since 2010 in annual new HIV infections among adolescent girls (10–19 years) is in sharp contrast to the decline of just 7 per cent among adolescent boys, who now account for nearly two thirds of all annual new HIV infections among adolescents. The overall concentrated nature of the region’s epidemics suggests that many new infections continue to occur in key populations. In some parts of the region, demographic shifts including migration point to other HIV risk and vulnerability factors.