Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director, Julie Gerberding, named Cambodia as one Asian country staring at disaster unless there were international efforts to help develop adequate public health measures.

  

Gerberding, on a tour of Asia to assess regional infectious diseases and give technical advice, praised Thailand's efforts to contain the HIV-AIDS epidemic.

  

"(But) in some countries, like China, India and Cambodia, the public health measures have yet to take hold," she told a forum at the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore.

 

She said the status of AIDS in these three countries was similar to the way Africa was a decade or so ago. It was “scaling up” rapidly and if “we don't intervene in those environments we will have a catastrophe of a very, very profound increase in the number of cases", she warned.

 

SARS experience helpful

 

She said she was hopeful that China's experience in dealing with the SARS outbreak would help in the country's efforts to battle against the incurable Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).

  

While SARS killed more than 800 people this year, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Health and Science Jack Chow said up to 25 million people had died from AIDS worldwide over the past two decades.

  

Chow warned there could be another 80 million cases of HIV-AIDS by the end of the decade in China, India, Russia, Ethiopia and Nigeria alone.

  

According to UN estimates, between 800,000 and 1.5 million people in China had HIV by December 2001, and the number could reach 10 million by 2010.

  

India says four million people are living with the AIDS virus, more than any country apart from South Africa. A US study in 2002 predicted there would be 20 million to 25 million Indians infected with HIV by 2010.