Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng said the AIDS situation in Cambodia has experienced a steady improvement over the past two decades, with a decline in infections from a peak of 1.8 per cent of the population in 1998 down to just 0.5 per cent in 2020.
Bun Heng made the remarks after a courtesy call with Vladanka Andreeva, the outgoing country director for UNAIDS in Cambodia on June 30.
“The reduction in HIV infections in Cambodia has been achieved remarkably fast. We last observed an increase in 1991. The year 2020 saw an average of only two new people infected per day nationwide,” he said.
Previously, the AIDS was primarily treated in hospitals, but now it was mostly treated at home because there are a smaller number of patients and more effective treatments available.
“Our citizens have learned a lot about AIDS and know well how to protect themselves against this disease. We hope that we will reach the Millennium Development Goals and the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 and that AIDS will no longer present a serious public health problem in Cambodia,” he said.
The health ministry said the HIV prevalence rate in Cambodia had continued to decline steadily – from 1.8 per cent in 1998 to 1.2 per cent in 2005 and 0.6 per cent in 2017 – and finally reaching 0.5 per cent in 2020.
During the courtesy call, Vladanka Andreeva complimented the Cambodian government and its civil servants working on AIDS issues on all of the successes their efforts had achieved.
“It is a matter of national pride that Cambodia must achieve victory in its fight against AIDS,” Bun Heng stated.
Marking the occasion of World AIDS Day on December 1, 2020, Prime Minister Hun Sen said the Cambodian government still considered the fight against AIDS and the HIV virus high priorities because of the threat it still posed to public health, saying that the virus not only endangers people lives but also severely impacts socio-economic development.
The National AIDS Authority said the HIV prevalence among people aged 15-49 had declined from 0.8 per cent in 2010 to 0.5 per cent in 2019. The number of AIDS-related deaths across all ages had declined from 2,300 in 2010 to 1,300 in 2019.
“These achievements are showing the effectiveness and high quality of our policy interventions for the prevention of AIDS in pursuit of our goal of ending AIDS by 2025 – five years before the UN’s target,” Hun Sen said.
Hun Sen also noted that we must not be complacent or satisfied with Cambodia’s successes because in the entire time since HIV and AIDS began to spread globally in the 1980s up until now the world still has not yet developed a HIV/AIDS vaccine or a way to cure it completely.