U.N. Secretary General Koffi Annan says nations in the Asia -Pacific region must urgently address the AIDS epidemic, or face dire economic and social consequences.
Speaking before today's (Sunday's) opening of a week-long AIDS conference in Bangkok, Thailand, Mr. Annan said the AIDS scourge could be turned back only with a coordinated effort by all countries in the region.
According to United Nations estimates, 38 million people worldwide are infected with AIDS and one out of every five new cases occur in Asia. The world body says 2003 saw the largest jump in infections since the illness was identified.
Planners of the AIDS conference say the Bangkok meeting aims to share information and get governments to better fight the disease, especially through education.
Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.