Group Pledges $36.5 Million To Treat AIDS

Responding to an increasing num­ber of patients in need of treat­ment, the Global Fund has pro­mised $36.5 million over five years to organizations treating Cam­bodian HIV/AIDS patients, said Dr Mean Chhi Vun, who is the director of the National Cen­ter for HIV/AIDS, Derma­tology and STIs.

Of particular concern to the Health Ministry is the shortage of anti-retroviral drug treatment that would prolong the lives of the most seriously ill patients, said Minister of Health Nuth Sokhom.

As of November 2004, about 5,500 people were receiving anti-re­troviral treatment in Cambodia. Some 20,000 people will need the treatment in 2005, though funding only exists to treat 10,000 patients, Mean Chhi Vun said.

“AIDS patients who don’t re­ceive ART, they can’t work and sur­­vive their families,” he said. “If they use ART correctly, they can pro­long their lives by 10 to 15 years.”

The Ministry of Health said last month that official records of Cam­bodia’s HIV/AIDS rate have been inflated for years.

It released what it said is its most compre­hen­sive report to date showing HIV prevalence dropping from 2.6 percent in 2002 to 1.9 percent in 2003 for those aged 15 to 49 years.

“We are proud the number of people with HIV has decreased this year to under 2 percent,” Nuth Sokhom said.

Dr Tia Phalla, secretary general of the National AIDS Authority, said it was too early to determine whether the decrease in the pre­valence of HIV will affect future funding.

“I think so far we haven’t yet seen a decrease in funding,” he said. “The numbers showing de­creased prevalence were only re­leased very recently.”

Despite the decrease in new in­fections, he added, the number of people needing anti-retroviral treatment has increased dramatically.

“Donors should understand our situation,” he said. “A poor country like Cambodia, how can we provide ART to people?”



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