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Asia 'needs billions of condoms'

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GENEVA, Switzerland, Aug 18, 2003 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- There are simply not enough condoms in Asia, the World Health Organization announced Monday.

The shortage is heightening fears over the spread of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the BBC reported.

Unless extensive prevention efforts are undertaken immediately, the region -- which currently has seven million HIV/AIDS sufferers -- is set to become the epicenter of the pandemic in the next decade, the WHO said.

It is currently short of "billions" of condoms, the organization warned, adding that at least 30 million people could be infected in India and China by 2010.

According to WHO estimates, 24 billion condoms are needed throughout the world every year -- although only six to nine billion are actually distributed.

A substantial proportion of HIV infections in Asia are attributable to commercial sex, according to the U.N. agency.

Copyright 2003 by United Press International.

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