Significant legal and policy barriers still remain for Asia-Pacific countries' fight against AIDS, a report released on Tuesday by the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) showed.
Currently, all countries in the region have at least one law that hinders the AIDS response, according to the report disclosed at the opening of the 11th International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific (ICAAP11) in Bangkok.
Some 37 countries in the region criminalize some aspects of sex work while 18 criminalize same sex behavior, the report said.
Also, 11 countries, territories and areas in the region still impose HIV-related restriction, in one form or another, on entry, stay and residence, it added.
"Punitive laws, policies and practices are probably the No.1 thing that gets in the way," said Steve Kraus, director of the UNAIDS Regional Support Team for Asia and the Pacific.
But the report also acknowledged progress countries in the region have made in addressing stigma and discrimination.
At least 10 laws or policies have been removed or revised since 2010, "which contribute to enabling more people to access HIV services," the report said.
South China's Guangdong province in 2013 removed restrictions preventing people living with HIV from being employed as teachers, and Nepal recognized "third gender" in the national census, to name just a few cases in point.
The ICAAP11, with the theme of "Asia/Pacific Reaching Triple Zero: Investing in Innovation," will last through Friday.
"Triple zero" refers to UNAIDS' vision of achieving zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths.