Actress Holds Out Arms to Aids Victims vb

For the 35 HIV/AIDS infected residents of the Borei Keila squatter community in Prampi Makara district, it would seem there is little hope.

A deadly disease ravages their bodies; the alleys of their community are littered with trash and feces, both human and animal; and the government has declared that it will demolish their houses in order to construct 10 new apartment buildings with what some say are dubious reassurances that the squatters will be allowed to stay.

But Wednesday, amidst their troubles, they played host to US actress Ashley Judd, who brought a moment of hope into their community.

“I’m from a hugging family,” Judd said after she embraced Im Son, a 66-year-old woman afflicted by HIV/AIDS.

After asking Im Son’s permission, She circled her arms around her and several of her family mem­bers.

Judd is YouthAIDS’ Global Am­bassador and is in Cambodia making a tour of various Popu­lation Ser­vices Inter­national projects in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap and meeting many afflicted by HIV/AIDS, said Kate Roberts, di­rector of Youth­AIDS.

YouthAIDS is sponsored by the social marketing agency PSI, and its mission is “to harness the commercial sector in order to offer a plat­form for corporations and individuals” to fight against AIDS, Roberts said.

In addition to visiting the Borei Keila squatter community, Judd visited the Sihanouk Hos­pital Center of HOPE and two of its fa­cilities; the Chronic Care Facility, an HIV/AIDS hospice, and the Elton John Aid Found­ation outpatient center.

Judd on Wednesday seemed more comfortable in the arms of HIV/AIDS patients than when cameras were taking profile shots of her as she stepped out of her white SUV.

“I’m here to learn… and to give hope,” she said. After visiting projects in Siem Reap Thursday and Friday, Judd will attend the International AIDS Conference in Thailand.


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