HIV and AIDS online data hub launched
MANILA, 28 November 2008 — The first-ever one-stop online resource hub providing comprehensive and easy-to-access HIV and AIDS data in Asia and the Pacific was launched today.
The Evidence to Action Initiative – a partnership between the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the UN Joint Program on AIDS (UNAIDS), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) – provides user-friendly data on most-at-risk population groups, women, children, and young people, disaggregated by age and sex. It also probes provincial and district-level situation where data are available, and provides updates on the prevalence, behaviours and national responses.
The data hub is guided by a Science and Technical Advisory Group which met this week in Manila to discuss ways to use evidence and analyses for policy makers, researchers, and frontline workers to improve the prevention, care, and treatment of HIV and AIDS.
“This data hub initiative is important to help us understand the AIDS epidemics in Asia-Pacific, which can greatly facilitate decision making by national leaders,” said Ursula Schaefer-Preuss, ADB’s Vice President for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development. “A data hub can easily monitor interventions for the right groups at the right places, given the concentrated nature of HIV and AIDS in Asia-Pacific.”
The AIDS epidemic in Asia-Pacific is attributed to unprotected paid sex and sexual contact between men with other men, and injecting drug use with shared needles. Many of those who buy sex and inject drugs infect their wives or girl friends, who then transmit the virus to their babies. Among the most-at-risk populations in Asia, although HIV is largely concentrated in injecting drug users and sex workers and their clients, men who buy sex are becoming a key driver of Asia’s HIV epidemics. The recent Asia AIDS Commission Report estimated at least 75 million Asian men buy sex regularly from about 10 million Asian women who sell sex. Male-male sex and drug injectors add another 20 million or more to the men at high risk of HIV infection.
“The hub and all of the data help substantiate a major call by the Asian AIDS Commission to prioritise interventions on those most-at-risk, and achieve a high level of service coverage and behavioural change to halt the spread of HIV in the most cost-effective way,” said Prasada Rao, Director of UNAIDS Regional Support Team for Asia-Pacific. He also notes that HIV data collection has improved over the past decade. “But the system and capacity to analyse the information still pose a challenge to many countries in the region,” he added.
UNICEF is managing the searchable online resource hub: http://www.aidsdatahub.org/ and an on-line database: http://www.devinfo.info/Evidencetoaction/. The website carries multiple sources of data and reports, PowerPoint presentations and reviews on HIV and AIDS situation in 24 countries and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
Equipped with the latest HIV statistics, the hub’s information comprises all of the internationally-accepted standardised indicators ranging from HIV prevalence and condom use rate to knowledge and country specific indicators. Trend analysis and quality of data are assessed and monitored by the advisory group of 15 multi-disciplinary HIV and AIDS epidemiologists and public health experts, who also guide the hub’s effort to harmonise data reporting, and support timely data update to track the epidemic and service coverage.
“The scale-up towards universal access, especially for the most vulnerable groups in Asia-Pacific, require rapid data collection and strong analysis in the countries,” said Omi Shigeru, WHO’s Regional Director. “WHO is committed to strengthening national capacity for data analysis, and this public resource ensures, at the regional level, services coverage is tracked, the epidemic’s trajectory better understood, and new knowledge is captured, all of which contribute to our efforts for an HIV-free future.”
With the data hub, users can access:
In addition, users can search the database using keywords, send queries on HIV and AIDS data, and provide new data sources.