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AIDS fight continues with new testing centers

AIDS fight continues with new testing centers

Front-line organizations fighting the spread of HIV/AIDS in Cambodia aim to have

100 blood testing and drug dispensing centers operating countrywide by the end of

next year, using 4 million euros ($US4.8 million) granted by the European Union.

Currently, centers have been opened in Phnom Penh, Kampong Cham, Takeo, Siem Reap,

Battambang and Svay Rieng provinces, which are each seeing 100-150 people per month

for counseling and testing; Kirivong and Ang Roka districts in Takeo and Sampov Meas

in Pursat, will follow, then Mondulkiri, Rattanakiri and Preah Vihear. The plan is

to have 80 centers operational by the end of this year. Provinces with the larger

populations are being targeted first.

An allocation of 600,000 euros is to buy the Anti-Retroviral Treatment (ART) medicine

for Takeo and Pursat.

So far about 4,300 people living with HIV/AIDS have received anti-retroviral drugs.

The aim is to have 6,000 people on ART by the end of this year, 10,000 next year

and 20,000 in 2009.

In addition to the European Union assistance, the Ministry of Health (MoH) has allocated

$36.5 million for consumer care programs and $22 million to buy ARTs, with funds

coming from the Global Fund to Fight Aids.

The major organizations involved in Cambodia are the MoH, National Center for HIV/AIDS,

Dermatology and STD (NCHAD), Health Net and AIDS Net.

NCHAD is in charge of consumer care and providing ART drugs; Health Net is responsible

for youth AIDS education; AIDS Net trains center staff and volunteers. The project

is monitored by the Institute of Tropical Medicine, Belgium.

Tia Phalla, secretary general at the National Aids Authority (NAA), said Cambodia

has the highest HIV/Aids prevalence in Southeast Asia, with one third of new infections

coming from mother to child transmission. The incidence was 2.6 percent of the population,

including 22,000 living with HIV/AIDS. Twenty or more people are infected each day.

About 90,000 people have already died from the disease and left more than 60,000

orphaned vulnerable children.

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