SOUTHEAST Asia is set to take over from Africa as the area with the most uncontrollable spread of AIDS within the next two or three years, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said yesterday. WHO Director-General Dr Hiroshi Nakajima said in Hong Kong that the disease had reached epidemic proportions in Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia. He said China was also a source of concern and he hoped that detailed education and information programmes would soon be introduced. 'The situation is becoming more and more serious,' he said. 'Africa is still our major concern but within two or three years Southern and Southeast Asia will become the problem.' He said the WHO was in the process of establishing a new aid programme in conjunction with the United Nations, aimed at improving education about the disease. WHO statistics show that the number of officially reported AIDS cases around the world topped the one million mark in January this year - an increase of 20 per cent over the figure of 851,628 recorded in January last year. But the UN believes the figure may be much higher - at around 4.5 million because of incomplete reporting and under-diagnosis. A total of 19.5 million people have been infected with HIV since the pandemic began in the late 1970s. So far, Asia accounts for about two per cent of reported AIDS cases, led by Thailand which has reported 13,246 cases. India has reported 885 cases and Japan 832 cases. However, the WHO believes about three million people in the region may be carrying the virus. Hong Kong statistics show the number of people carrying HIV is increasing steadily at a rate of about 25 per cent each year. However, the number of people developing full-blown AIDS had soared by 40 per cent last year. The number of people in Hong Kong with AIDS now stands at 130, up from 93 at the end of 1993, and accounts for one-quarter of the 520 recorded HIV infections in the territory.