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83% of HIV-positive people treated in 2020: PM

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Villagers have an HIV test in Battambang province. Heng Chivoan

83% of HIV-positive people treated in 2020: PM

Eighty-three per cent of people living with HIV in Cambodia were receiving care in 2020, the highest rate in the Asia-Pacific, according to Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Hun Sen made the remark in a message to commemorate the World AIDS Day on December 1, to be held under the theme “End inequalities. End AIDS. End pandemics.”, seeking to galvanise a unified global commitment to sharing new knowledge, skills and experiences to more effectively stave off the spread of HIV.

HIV-positive people are included in the list of vulnerable groups that receive social assistance, he said, adding that the government spent a total of 515,004,000 riel ($127,000) on 1,974 households with HIV-positive members between June 2020 and July 2021.

The National AIDS Authority (NAA) is working with the Ministry of Planning to adjust procedures so that many more people with HIV who do not enjoy social protection coverage can have access to IDPoor or other equity cards, he said.

“Cambodia is blazing a trail by transforming its AIDS programme from one that was dependent on external aid to one that is resilient and sustainable.

“[We’ve] started to expand the national system, to spur a sweeping national movement in the fight against AIDS, by enabling all institutions at every level to form an anti-AIDS committee that acts in close cooperation with local and international development partners, NGOs and civil society,” Hun Sen said.

Even with Covid looming large in the background, the Kingdom nearly managed to hit the “95-95-95” goal last year, according to the prime minister.

He was alluding to a national resolution that, by 2025, 95 per cent of all people living with HIV will be diagnosed, 95 per cent of those diagnosed will be on sustained antiretroviral therapy (ART), and 95 per cent of those on ART will have viral suppression.

Hun Sen also praised government ministries and institutions at all levels, as well as partners, for their active participation in the fight against HIV and AIDS, with the NAA as the government unit at the helm.

He also appealed to the public to reach out to currently untreated HIV-infected individuals and encourage them to seek medical care, estimating the number of such people at 12,000.

The prime minister said government agencies at all levels are following a six-pronged strategy to combat HIV, which entails: adjustments to spending, development and investment policies concerning AIDS intervention; the provision of the necessary equity cards; the mobilisation of funds for HIV response; and collaboration with civil society.

He identified the remaining two components as: the preparation of a budget that ensures the government’s commitment to end the AIDS epidemic by 2025 is met; and for the Ministry of Health to build more human resources, and strengthen the procurement and distribution of medicines, equipment and information systems to effectively deal with HIV.

“I would like to dedicate the message and essence of World AIDS Day on December 1, 2021 towards sparking a movement aimed at accomplishing the goal of no new transmission, no new deaths of HIV or AIDS patients, and no discrimination against people with HIV or AIDS,” Hun Sen said.

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