United Nation health officials have urged governments in Asia to eliminate anti-gay laws that hinder the battle against HIV.

The UN-AIDS director for Asia and the Pacific, Steven Kraus, says laws that punish same-sex activities and impose harsh drug sentences have prompted a rise in HIV transmissions in parts of Asia.

Mr Kraus says practices that discriminate against men who have sex with men and prevent them from receiving treatment run counter to global HIV prevention efforts.

He was speaking at the International AIDS Society meeting in Kuala Lumpur on Monday.

A senior Cambodian health ministry official told the conference in Malaysia that early intervention focused on prevention has slowed transmission in his country.

Cambodia is considered one of Asia’s more successful countries in battling HIV.

It’s seen annual infections fall from 20,000 in the early 1990s to approximately 1,300 last year.

Among other countries that are taking steps to move away from punitive, approaches, Thailand provides condoms for sex workers and Malaysia has converted some drug detention centres into “cure and care” clinics.

On Monday Singapore’s first openly gay politician, Vincent Wijeysingha, urged for the repeal of the state’s ban on sex between men.

Last week, Amnesty International warned efforts by governments in Africa to impose new laws and draconian penalties for same-sex relationships was having a detrimental effect when it came to dealing with the continent’s HIV epidemic.