Gov’t, NGOs Focus on Groups Most at Risk To HIV/AIDS

Ahead of World AIDS Day on Wednesday, the National AIDS Authority’s secretary-general said the organization lacked funds to fight HIV/AIDS in Cambodia over the next five years.

Only about half of the $510 million budgeted for the 2011 to 2015 national plan was currently available, said NAA secretary-general Teng Kunthy.

“HIV/AIDS still remains a concern in Cambodia,” he said. “We have to take measures to reduce HIV among three high risk groups.”

The virus was present in less than one percent of the general population, but 14 percent of women in the entertainment industry, including sex workers, 24 percent of intravenous drug users, and 9 percent of men in Phnom Penh having sex with men, according to data from 2005 to 2007.

Tim Vora, executive director of NGO network HIV/AIDS Coordinating Committee, noted that about 90 percent of funding to combat HIV/AIDS in Cambodia came from donors and about 170 NGOs.

Oum Sopheap, executive director of Khmer HIV/AIDS NGO Alliance, yesterday unveiled plans to widen the scope of the group’s activities to focus on sexual and reproductive health, mother and child health, livelihoods and TB.

The enforcement of the 2007 Anti-Human Trafficking Law against sex workers and laws against drugs make it harder for the most vulnerable populations to access services and use condoms, Mr Sopheap said. “Policy toward entertainment workers and drug users face the most difficulties,” he said.

To mark World AIDS Day the NGO produced three documentaries following the lives of an entertainment worker, a drug user and a gay man to highlight their vulnerability to HIV infection. “They will show the drivers that put them at risk,” Mr Sopheap said, noting that a fourth documentary would focus on Cambodia’s reversal of the HIV trend.

A World AIDS Day ceremony tomorrow will be presided over by Prime Minister Hun Sen and his wife, Bun Rany, and donations given to 157 HIV-positive people in Kandal province’s Takhmau City, Mr Kunthy said.


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