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Kingdom on course to end AIDS spread early

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The government says the fight against AIDS is still a priority. Heng Chivoan

Kingdom on course to end AIDS spread early

To combat and contain the spread of AIDS, WORLD AIDS Day which falls on December 1 will be marked with the theme Global Solidarity and Shared Responsibility.

Prime Minister Hun Sen noted that Cambodia’s achievements are showing positive, effective and qualitative signs to reach the goals of ending the spread of AIDS in 2025 – five years before the UN’s 2030 target to put a definitive end to the disease as a public health threat.

A report from the National AIDS Authority (NAA) showed that the rate of AIDS among adults aged 15-49 had decreased from 0.8 per cent in 2010 to 0.5 per cent last year. Deaths from AIDS had decreased from 2,300 in 2010 to 1,300 last year.

The report said that currently, HIV-positive people numbered 73,000. Of the figure, 84 per cent are receiving regular anti-viral treatment which is 96 per cent effective.

The number of people who newly became infected with AIDS decreased from 1,900 in 2010 to 780 last year.

In a letter issued in conjunction with World AIDS Day, Hun Sen said: “These achievements show a positive, effective and qualitative sign of our achievements in containing the spread of AIDS.

“We must not forget. We must not be complacent about our successes because since the spread of [HIV] in the 1980s until now, the world is yet to have a vaccine or medicine to cure it definitively.”

The prime minister said Cambodia has 12,000 HIV-positive people who have yet to return to have their blood re-tested to ascertain if they continue to have the virus in their bodies. Some other people living with AIDS had abandoned treatment.

The government still regards the fight against AIDS as a high priority because the virus posed a threat to public health, a danger to people’s lives and had gravely impacted socio-economic development.

Hun Sen said the government had been continuing to cooperate closely and effectively with all partners including donor countries, international organisations, WHO, UNAIDS, Global Fund and NGOs.

These organisations had actively joined to contain the spread of the AIDS virus in Cambodia.

From 2021 to 2023, the government plans to spend $19.65 million, of which $11 million is to buy medicine for people living with AIDS.

Bun Rany, the head of the Cambodian Red Cross (CRC), and the National Champion of the Asia Pacific Leadership Forum on HIV/AIDS and Development in Cambodia, also call for attention to three priority tasks.

The first, she said, is to contain new infections, especially among young people and halt its transmission from mother to babies.

“The second is to provide social and psychological support services to HIV-positive people and those suspected of having AIDS, while the third is to continue to strengthen and expand AIDS education, by disseminating, promoting, and eliminating all forms of denigration and discrimination against HIV-positive people,” she said.

She underscored that even though Cambodia had achieved a series of successes, the situation is still fragile. “We can forget AIDS, but AIDS doesn’t forget us. If we forget it a little, there will be a break out of AIDS transmission.”

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