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Web-only Exclusives
November 30, 2000

From Our Correspondent: Hirohito and the War
A conversation with biographer Herbert Bix

From Our Correspondent: A Rough Road Ahead
Bad news for the Philippines - and some others

From Our Correspondent: Making Enemies
Indonesia needs friends. So why is it picking fights?

Asiaweek Time Asia Now Asiaweek story

Is Asia's Number Really Up?

AIDS is set to explode in region, experts warn

By Catherine Shepherd

WHILE EPIDEMIOLOGISTS -- SCIENTISTS who track diseases -- have long labeled Africa as a time bomb for the outbreak of afflictions such as AIDS, much of the world remained somewhat indifferent to the continent's plight. The situation is set to change with a new World Bank report that brings the threat of AIDS much closer to home. The infection rate in Asia, says the report, will "dwarf the health crisis" Africans suffered over the past 10 years.

How bad is it? According to the report, there are now 5.3 million people infected with HIV or AIDS in Asia. What's worse, the number is expected to jump dramatically in the near future. The reason for the new outbreaks, says the report, is that most of Southeast Asia has reached a "concentrated stage" of infection. This means that the disease has reached high levels among those most at risk -- intravenous drug users and sex workers -- and is set to creep into the rest of society. Countries hardest hit are Thailand, where 2.1 people in every 100 have full-blown AIDS or are HIV-infected; Cambodia, where the ratio is 1.9 for every 100; and Myanmar at 1.5 for every 100.

The report contains other alarming statistics. In China, 78% of HIV carriers are concentrated in Yunnan Province adjacent to the "Golden Triangle" drug belt. In Bombay, 2% of pregnant women are HIV positive and in Cambodia 7% of military personnel test positive.

In response, international organizations like the World Bank and UNAIDS say they will broaden education programs for high-risk groups, improve health care for those already infected and attempt to wake up the rest of the population to the impending hazard.


COLON CARE Two separate findings have provided valuable information for lowering the risk of colon cancer, the third-largest killer behind lung and breast cancer. The first is simple: exercise. In a study published by the Harvard School of Public Health, the lifestyle habits of 67,000 American women were tallied for six years. The conclusion: Women who did 30 minutes or more of cardiovascular exercise a day had half the incidence of colon cancer than less active participants.

Second, from the journal Nature Medicine, comes the news that vitamin E reduces colon cancer when taken in conjunction with the standard-treatment anti-cancer drug called 5FU. Researchers found that the vitamin E-5FU cocktail shrunk tumors over the six-week study period and turned on a gene that helped control abnormal cell growth.

Fit for life As if there wasn't enough pressure to look like Bond Girl Michelle Yeoh. Doctors at the Harvard School of Public Health have another reason for women to lose their middle age spread: breast cancer. In a study of over 2,000 post-menopausal women in the U.S., Dr. Zhiping Huang and colleagues found that those who had put on 20 kg-25 kg in adulthood were 61% more likely to develop breast cancer than women who gained only a few kilograms.

But the report had some good news for flabbier females. The researchers found that if heavier women took HRT or hormone replacement therapy, the increased risk of contracting the cancer dropped to 40%. Still, they advised women not to rely on HRT for protection and to exercise regularly and eat sensibly to keep fit.

This edition's table of contents | Asiaweek home



U.S. secretary of state says China should be 'tolerant'

Philippine government denies Estrada's claim to presidency

Faith, madness, magic mix at sacred Hindu festival

Land mine explosion kills 11 Sri Lankan soldiers

Japan claims StarLink found in U.S. corn sample

Thai party announces first coalition partner


COVER: President Joseph Estrada gives in to the chanting crowds on the streets of Manila and agrees to make room for his Vice President

THAILAND: Twin teenage warriors turn themselves in to Bangkok officials

CHINA: Despite official vilification, hip Chinese dig Lamaist culture

PHOTO ESSAY: Estrada Calls Snap Election

WEB-ONLY INTERVIEW: Jimmy Lai on feeling lucky -- and why he's committed to the island state


COVER: The DoCoMo generation - Japan's leading mobile phone company goes global

Bandwidth Boom: Racing to wire - how underseas cable systems may yet fall short

TAIWAN: Party intrigues add to Chen Shui-bian's woes

JAPAN: Japan's ruling party crushes a rebel at a cost

SINGAPORE: Singaporeans need to have more babies. But success breeds selfishness

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