It is increasingly clear that East Asia has become an important new front in the global fight against AIDS. In order to lay the groundwork for regional cooperation, the FGFJ brought together experts from around the region in a yearlong study to examine how governments, civil society, corporations, and the media are responding to the spread of HIV/AIDS. This not only sought to advance general understanding of the challenges of communicable diseases but also to develop a regional network of leaders from diverse sectors who actively seek common solutions. A seminar was held in Tokyo on June 29, 2005, for the project researchers to exchange views and their research was published in April 2006 as Fighting a Rising Tide: The Response to AIDS in East Asia.
The papers compiled in Fighting a Rising Tide portray a surprising diversity of experiences throughout the region. Countries such as Australia had early and highly concentrated epidemics while others, such as China, are just now experiencing rapidly growing epidemics. There are also places in the region—particularly Thailand and Cambodia—where the epidemics are maturing and where prevalence is still high but slowly declining, offering valuable lessons for containing the spread elsewhere. Finally, there are some especially frightening cases in which prevalence rates are still low but growing exponentially in certain populations, particularly among injecting drug users.
While East Asia is at high risk for a major disaster as the epidemic spreads, there is still a window of opportunity for concerted joint action. The authors propose a number of concrete steps that might be taken in order to increase regional cooperation, and these are outlined in the volume’s overview. These include: 1) more concerted efforts to raise regional awareness; 2) stronger political leadership; 3) enhanced cross-sectoral cooperation; 4) efforts to more clearly define the respective roles of government and NGOs; 5) sound national policies that replicate successful responses elsewhere; 6) joint regional initiatives to deal with the trafficking of people and illicit drugs; 7) greater emphasis on the role of women in responding to the disease; and 8) the reduction of stigma against people living with HIV/AIDS and better engagement of them in measures to fight the disease.
Download full text of the Chinese version of Fighting a Rising Tide. [PDF 2.5 MB]